Speakers shared stories about the future of energy in Minnesota at a Department of Commerce media event held last week. Among the topics was the importance of strengthening Minnesota’s energy highways with transmission lines, such as the proposed Northland Reliability Project, to provide critical infrastructure for reliable energy.
Great River Energy’s Priti Patel, vice president and chief transmission officer, spoke during the event, which was held at the Minnesota Power headquarters in Duluth. Patel spoke about the energy transformation that is happening in Minnesota and across the country, and the important role new transmission will play in creating a clean energy future that remains safe, affordable and reliable.
“We can’t get to the vision we have for the future without expanding our region’s transmission system,” Patel said. “The resources we use to create electricity are changing and the grid that delivers it needs to change too.”
The Midwest Independent System Operator, the region’s grid operator, recently approved its largest investment in history to expand the transmission grid across Minnesota and the Midwest. Among the 18 approved projects is the Northland Reliability Project, which GRE and Minnesota Power will be building jointly.
“Transmission, like the Northland Reliability Project, is the critical link for delivering electricity from where it is created to where it is needed,” Patel said.
She also emphasized GRE and Minnesota Power will use concern for community as “our greatest guide.” The project, which will span 150 miles from northern to central Minnesota, will be sited through cooperative communities.
“We will treat every community on this project with concern, and the process we follow with the Department of Commerce and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will be open and transparent,” Patel said.
Sarah Cron, chief operating officer at Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative, spoke in support of the project.
"The Northland Reliability Project will help ensure that as our generation portfolio continues to transition from coal to cleaner alternatives, power is there for you when you flip the switch," she said.
Other speakers included Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold, and representatives from Minnesota Power and LiUNA, an organization representing union labor.