DULUTH – A 224-mile transmission line has started delivering Canadian hydropower to Minnesota homes and businesses after Minnesota Power energized the Great Northern Transmission Line this week.
The Duluth-based utility is now on track to receive half of its electricity from renewable sources within a year.
Bethany Owen, CEO of parent company Allete, said the line is “the culmination of a decadelong vision brought to life by our talented and dedicated employees.”
“It also strengthens the grid across the Midwest and in Canada, enhancing reliability for all of our customers,” she said in a news release Thursday.
The 500-kilovolt line can deliver 250 megawatts of power from Manitoba Hydro, which energized its own new stretch of transmission line from the Winnipeg area to the Canadian border near Roseau, Minn., on June 1.
“It is a testament to the wonderful, longstanding relationship between our two companies and two countries,” Manitoba Hydro CEO Jay Grewal said in a statement. The company has 15 hydroelectric generating stations with generating capacity of 5,648 megawatts that will provide electricity to Minnesota’s grid.
Minnesota Power leaders put plans into motion in 2008 to buy power from Manitoba Hydro, and permitting began in 2012.
Construction on the Great Northern Transmission Line began in early 2017 and wrapped up in February this year. The project came in under budget, with Minnesota Power paying $325 million of the $700 million cost it shared with Manitoba Hydro.
The hydro energy can act as a “battery” for Minnesota Power’s increasing portfolio of wind energy and help cut down a reliance on coal. The company still has plans to build a $700 million, 550-megawatt natural gas plant in Superior, Wis., which it has proposed with Dairyland Power Cooperative as a way to provide power when there is limited solar and wind supply.
Minnesota Power has 145,000 customers across 26,000 square miles in northeastern and central Minnesota.