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Transmission line benefits from streamlined reforms in U.S.

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Minnesota Power submitted the proposed route alternatives shown in the map in a Route Permit Application in April 2014.

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Minnesota Power submitted the proposed route alternatives shown in the map in a Route Permit Application in April 2014.

A proposed transmission line to run from Winnipeg to Minnesota has got a nod of approval from U.S. President Barack Obama.

In a release issued by the White House on Wednesday, the Obama administration said the line, called the Great Northern Transmission Line, was one example of a more efficient process to get major infrastructure projects approved more quickly.

The line is to run from Rosser north-west of Winnipeg south to the Minnesota border where it will hook up with a second line to Duluth.

Under a proposal now being studied by the Public Utilities Board, Manitoba Hydro will own 49 per cent of the U.S. side of the 500 KV transmission line, with Minnesota Power owning the rest.

The PUB has heard that Hydro’s stake in the line was needed so that it would be upgraded, at Hydro’s request, from the originally-proposed 230 kilovolts to 500. The larger line would allow Hydro to ship more power into the Wisconsin market and import more power to Manitoba from U.S. utilities when needed.

In a release, Minnesota Power, said it applied last month to the U.S. Department of Energy for a Presidential Permit and also filed a route permit application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

It says the project needs a Presidential Permit from the DOE because the transmission line will cross the international border between Manitoba and Minnesota and the DOE is the lead federal agency.

Minnesota Power also says the line will facilitate the delivery of at least 750 megawatts (MW) of renewable hydro power into the U.S. Beginning in 2020; Minnesota Power will use the line to deliver 250 MW from Manitoba Hydro to Minnesota’s Iron Range through a power purchase agreement approved by state regulators in 2012.

Meanwhile, a public meeting is scheduled for May 21 on the Manitoba side of the border to discuss the line’s proposed routes.

The Sundown Coalition says the project will affect many Manitobans directly or indirectly.

"This includes land takeover, decreases in wildlife population or being located (as proposed) near cemeteries," the Sundown Coalition says in a release. The coalition says it is, "opposed to this project affecting our lands, lives and futures in a negative irreversible manner."

The meeting is from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Sundown Ukrainian Catholic Hall in Sundown.

Speakers include Stuartburn Reeve Jim Swidersky, councillor Konrad Narth and Kelly Whelan-Enns of Manitoba Wildlands, a local environmental group.

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