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Minnesota Power praised for prep work on transmission line

Minnesota Power got presidential kudos last week about its Great Northern Transmission Line.

Stretching from Manitoba, Canada, to the Iron Range, the line will deliver renewable hydro power beginning in 2020.

It was the first project listed in a White House press release as a leading example of President Barack Obama’s renewed efforts to improve and speed up the federal permitting process.

Last month, Minnesota Power applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for a presidential permit that’s required when a transmission line crosses the border between the United States and Canada. The company also filed a route permit application with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission for the line.

But even before applications were filed, Minnesota Power was working with the DOE. And the White House took note of that. The release cited Minnesota Power’s early meetings with the DOE and other agencies, tribes, local governments, landowners and the general public to gather input on possible routes.

Through these early meetings, the company was able to narrow down potential corridors to two routes and it allows for a more efficient review process, the release said.

The White House’s mention of the Minnesota Power project is an affirmation of the company’s efforts, Al Hodnik, the company’s chairman, president and CEO said in a statement.

“We are doing so much more than simply building a 500-kilovolt line from Manitoba to Blackberry, Minn.,” he said. “We are doing our part to transform the nation’s energy landscape in the name of stewardship, reliability and also affordability while growing Allete and its energy businesses.”

Allete, based in Duluth, is Minnesota Power’s parent company.