After 8 years, ALLETE opens international power line

ALLETE Inc., the company with a major wind-farm in southern Oklahoma announced it is finally bringing online a new international power line that took 8 years of effort including four years of work to get government approval.

The Great Northern Transmission Line is described by ALLETE as an innovative delivery and storage system for renewable energy spanning two states and one Canadian province. Minnesota Power, a utility division of ALLETE Inc. brought the 500 kV line into operation and it is now delivering 250 megawatts of carbon-free hydropower from Manitoba,Canada to Minnesota Power customers. The 224-mile line was completed ahead of schedule in February and runs from the Canadian border in  Roseau County to a substation near Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

It consists of 800 tower structures and 2,200 miles of wire used to install the line’s conductors.

“This is such an incredible achievement for Minnesota Power, ALLETE, and our region, and is the culmination of a decade-long vision brought to life by our talented and dedicated employees,” said ALLETE President and CEO Bethany Owen. “The GNTL will help Minnesota Power to provide our customers with 50 percent renewable energy less than a year from now.”

ALLETE’s the same company that owns and operates the Diamond Spring wind farm near Ardmore where commercial and industrial power will be sold to Walmart, Starbucks and Smithfield Foods. The company recently expanded its Oklahoma wind energy projects by buying the 303 megawatt Caddo Wind farm in the western part of the state.

ALLETE bought the Caddo County wind farm from Apex Clean Energy and said it will eventually sell power to three Fortune 500 customers to be announced at a later date. The purchase brought ALLETE’s wind farm power production in Oklahoma to 1,340 megawatts.

With the GNTL energized and connected to Manitoba Hydro’s recently completed Manitoba-Minnesota Transmission Project at the border, the companies now have a unique “wind storage” mechanism that quickly balances energy supply and demand in Minnesota and Manitoba, and enables a larger role for renewables in the North American energy grid.

“The seed for this renewable energy initiative was planted in 2008 when Minnesota Power proposed purchasing 250 megawatts of hydropower from Manitoba Hydro. Beyond the transmission line, it also included a creative asset swap to move wind power from North Dakota to Minnesota, innovative power purchase agreements, and a remarkable advocacy process to find an acceptable route for the GNTL,” said ALLETE Executive Chairman Al Hodnik. “It marries wind and water in a unique connection that will help transform the energy landscape of North America and reduce carbon emissions related to the existential threat of climate change.”


Minnesota Power engaged federal, state and local agencies; the sovereign Red Lake Nation and other tribes; and landowners along the proposed routes beginning in 2012. Through 75 voluntary meetings and other outreach forums, a preferred route was selected with strong support from stakeholders that was approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in April 2016.

A four-year state and federal regulatory process culminated in late 2016 when the federal Department of Energy approved a Presidential Permit for the GNTL, needed because of the international border crossing. Construction of the line began in early 2017.

Source: Business Wire