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Minnesota Power seeks permits for new line

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news Bemidji, 56619
Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

John Myers

Forum News Service

DULUTH — Minnesota Power officials Wednesday said they have formally applied for state and federal permits to build the proposed 220-mile Great Northern high voltage electric transmission line across northern Minnesota.

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The Duluth-based utility, which has been planning the project for years, also released two route options for the line that will eventually bring hydroelectric power from northern Manitoba to the Iron Range.

The two routes are the last remaining of several options the utility considered and come after some 52 meetings held to measure public input on the routes.

Minnesota Power wants to start building the 500 kilovolt line from the Canada border near Roseau in northwest Minnesota to a substation near Blackberry, east of Grand Rapids, in 2016. They hope to have it carrying electricity by 2020.

The project is expected to cost between $500 million and $650 million, depending on the route. Plans to extend the new transmission line from Blackberry to Hermantown to service the Duluth area have, at least for now, been dropped.

The utility said it filed a route permit application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and also applied for a Presidential Permit from the U.S. Department of Energy, needed because the line will cross the U.S.-Canada border.

The electricity would come from a planned hydroelectric dam proposed by Manitoba Hydro. The Canadian utility has signed a long-term agreement to sell hydroelectric power to Minnesota Power.

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