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New Transmission Would Bring More Canadian Hydropower Southward And Improve Regional Electric Reliability

To bring renewable, carbon-free energy from Canada and upgrade the Upper Midwest’s electric system, Minnesota Power is proposing the construction of new transmission from Winnipeg to the Mesabi Iron Range and eventually into Duluth. Minnesota Power also is exploring other regional grid enhancements.

Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE, Inc. (NYSE: ALE), has filed its intent to pursue the project through the transmission expansion planning process of MISO, which manages grid reliability and electricity markets across 11 northern tier states and Manitoba.

“We’re well positioned geographically to serve customers with emission-free energy, though transmission investments are required to move electricity where it’s needed,” said Alan R. Hodnik, chairman, president and CEO of Duluth-based ALLETE.

“Through this initiative and the significant capital expenditure it entails, we can meet the needs of our customers and provide a vital regional connection, linking renewable energy with millions of customers in the Upper Midwest,’’ Hodnik said. “Through innovative and long range planning, we are positively shaping the nation’s energy landscape.”

Minnesota Power on January 26 received Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approval for a long-term 250 megawatt (MW) purchase of hydropower from Manitoba Hydro beginning in 2020.

New transmission infrastructure to carry the energy from Manitoba is an essential component of that power purchase agreement, first announced last June. Manitoba Hydro, a Crown Corporation based in Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba’s major energy utility, generates energy by way of hydroelectric dams in the northern part of the province.

After months of study and evaluation, planners at Minnesota Power and Manitoba Hydro are proposing construction of a 500 kV line which would strengthen the electric grid, enhance regional reliability and promote a greater exchange of sustainable energy.

That 500 kV circuit is expected to extend southward from Winnipeg and connect to a substation on the Mesabi Iron Range, where several Minnesota Power industrial customers process taconite and manufacture paper. The Winnipeg-Iron Range transmission build is expected to be in service in 2020.

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