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Minnesota Power Secures $50 Million From U.S. DOE To Modernize HVDC Transmission System

Oct. 23, 2023
Minnesota Power will work on features to replace aging infrastructure and modernize terminal stations of its 465-mile transmission line from Center, North Dakota to Hermantown, Minnesota.

Minnesota Power, an operating division of ALLETE, has secured a $50 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to modernize its high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system to meet future energy requirements and increase the reliability and resilience of the regional grid.

The company was selected in a competitive process among many applicants nationwide to receive the grant for its HVDC Terminal Expansion Capability Project from the Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships Program, part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Under the grant, Minnesota Power will prepare its HVDC system for future expansion by including certain additional design features in its current plan for replacing aging infrastructure and modernizing the terminal stations of its 465-mile transmission line starting from Center, North Dakota to Hermantown, Minnesota.

The company has filed a Certificate of Need and Route Permit with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to replace converter facilities at the Arrowhead Substation in Hermantown with new buildings and electrical infrastructure near the existing terminal with similar upgrades planned for the converter facilities at the Square Butte East Substation in Center, North Dakota.

The company is also looking for other federal and state funding to help keep impacts on rates as affordable as possible, both for this project and other projects supporting the clean-energy transition.

“Investments in transmission are critical to the reliability and resiliency of the grid as we continue to build a carbon-free energy future and advance Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy,” said Bethany Owen, ALLETE CEO. “This federal grant will help reduce costs to customers for upgrades to Minnesota Power’s strategically located HVDC transmission system, support federal and state energy policy goals—including Minnesota’s recently passed carbon-free by 2040 legislation—and help prepare the regional grid for the efficient transfer of more energy from a variety of generation sources.”

According to a study by the Brattle Group and DNV, investing in HVDC transmission is an important part of a reliable, clean-energy future. The study noted that HVDC technology addresses the requirements of an aging grid, while the U.S. trails the rest of the world in deploying HVDC solutions.

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