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Minnesota Power, Great River Energy Advance Joint 345-kV Transmission Line Project

Aug. 7, 2023
The project, worth between $970 million and $1.3 billion, is anticipated to initiate construction in 2027 and be operational in 2030.

Minnesota Power and Great River Energy have applied for a Certificate of Need and Route Permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to build the Northland Reliability Project, which is a 180-mile, double-circuit, 345 kV transmission line from northern Minnesota to central Minnesota, thereby strengthening electric reliability in the region.

The project, worth between $970 million and $1.3 billion, is anticipated to initiate construction in 2027 and be operational in 2030.

In the first segment of the project about 140 miles of 345 kV double-circuit transmission lines will be constructed from Minnesota Power’s Iron Range Substation in Itasca County to Great River Energy’s Benton County Substation near St. Cloud. 

The second segment will comprise of a 20 mile 230 kV line to be replaced with two 345 kV circuits along the Benton County Substation to a Big Oaks Substation, which will be a separate project. A 20 mile 345 kV line will also be replaced along the Benton County Substation to the Sherco Substation in Sherburne County.

The Northland Reliability Project will expand the Iron Range Substation near Grand Rapids and the Benton County Substation near St. Cloud and a Cuyuna Series Compensation Station will also be built in Crow Wing County near the existing Riverton Substation.

In 2022, both Minnesota Power and Great River Energy held about 30 public open houses and stakeholder meetings to provide opportunities for engagement with landowners, local governments, agencies, and Tribal Nations. While the MPUC will work on requirement and final route of the transmission line with review of cost recovery for Minnesota Power’s share of the project, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s portion will balance costs for customers and members.

“The pace of change is upon us and we are laser focused on getting this line built to ensure reliability for our members and customers in northern and central Minnesota,” said Great River Energy’s Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel.

While Great River Energy expects its retail electric sales will be provided by a 90% carbon-free power supply in alignment with the Minnesota carbon-free standard by 2035, Minnesota Power plans to be more than 70% renewable by 2030.

“Transmission is an integral part of Minnesota Power’s EnergyForward strategy for serving customers and communities as we work toward achieving both our vision and Minnesota’s energy policy goal of a carbon-free future,” said Minnesota Power’s Vice President of Transmission and Distribution Dan Gunderson. “As energy resources change, the regional power grid that delivers energy needs to change, and this project will help retain our outstanding reliability, provide system support as resources transition to different operating profiles, increase capacity, strengthen resiliency, and enhance grid flexibility.”

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