DIVERSIFYING MINNESOTA’S ENERGY PORTFOLIO
Great Northern Transmission Line
The Great Northern Transmission Line project is a 224-mile, 500-kV alternating current high voltage transmission line proposed by utility Minnesota Power and designed to deliver hydropower from the Manitoba/Minnesota border to a substation near Grand Rapids.
In order to be responsive to President Obama’s memorandum and position the State of Minnesota for compliance with the Clean Power Plan, the State, federal government, and Minnesota Power all wanted to get the project permitted as fast as possible, and faster than ever before.
To expedite the process, the E & E/Barr Engineering team combined State and federal permitting processes and prepared one joint EIS that would satisfy the requirements of each agency. That meant fitting the federal process into a compressed state timeline, while providing comprehensive review of 35 route variations. To save time we maximized information from the Applicant’s initial application and created a system to apply analysis of certain issues across all route scenarios. We sought feedback from involved parties to keep the process on track.
Setting a New Precedent – NOI to FEIS in 15 months
Our team demonstrated success in a fast-track permitting process that lays the groundwork for future projects, as Minnesota and other states continue to diversify their energy portfolios and move toward reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The quality of our work resulted in a unanimous Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decision to approve the Route Permit for the project. A presidential permit from DOE was awarded in November 2016.
“When it comes to decision-day, your [EIS] materials are passed through in a simple motion, essentially a blink of an eye ... I know the EIS was a whole hell of a lot of work. It was comprehensive, extremely informative, and of a high quality. I think, in part, that is why it can move right through with a single, no questions-asked motion and vote.”
Minnesota PUC staff member
to the Minnesota DOC