Minnesota Power commissions project to import renewables from Canada


US utility Minnesota Power has partnered with Hitachi ABB Power Grids to implement its Great Northern Transmission line initiative, a project designed to enhance the transmission of renewable energy from Canada into the US state of Minnesota.

Hitachi ABB Power Grids has provided the utility with a 500KV -1400MVAr series capacitor bank for the transmission line project. The capacitor is claimed to be one of the largest in the world and will enable Minnesota Power to transport electricity generated from a hydropower project in Manitoba in Canada to Minnesota. The transmission line stretches between Winnipeg, Manitoba and Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

The transmission line will enable the utility to meet its energy and grid decarbonisation goals and to improve customer services by providing its consumers with clean and affordable electricity generated using renewables, part of the company’s ‘EnergyForward’ strategy. Minnesota Power has plans to achieve 100% carbon-free energy by 2050 and became the first utility in the state to deliver 50% renewable energy to customers in 2020.

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Alireza Aram, managing director, Grid Integration business, North America, Hitachi ABB Power Grids, said: “This new series capacitor bank, one of the largest in the world, will enable Minnesota Power to meet its customers’ energy needs while increasing system reliability, and support their efforts to reduce carbon emissions from their operations.” 

Anthony Allard, head of North America, Hitachi ABB Power Grids, adds: “As we transition toward electricity as the backbone of the energy system, the smooth transmission of renewable power between regions and across borders will be increasingly critical.”  

The utility plans to add 400MW of new solar and wind energy capacity over the next ten years to be able to retire its coal fleet by 2035. By doing so, Minnesota Power will be able to increase its renewable energy supply to 70% by 2030 and to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% by 2035 from 2005 levels.

In early May, the energy company secured approval from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to invest $40 million in supporting communities affected by COVID-19 to recover by improving their energy resilience. The funding will be used to build three solar projects with a total capacity of 20MW in northern Minnesota. The projects would create 38 jobs and provide electricity to power 4,000 homes.