Allete plans transmission line between North Dakota, Montana

The line would link three markets in the U.S. power grid.

Transmission lines strung across a partly cloudy sky.
Minnesota Power transmission lines.
Bob King / 2009 file / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Allete is teaming up with a Houston company to build a $2.5 billion, 385-mile transmission line connecting three electric markets.

The Duluth-based energy company said it is partnering with Grid United on what it’s coined the “North Plains Connector," a high-voltage direct-current transmission line stretching from central North Dakota to Colstrip, Montana. The line is designed to reduce congestion on the grid system and connect areas with varying weather patterns, which is key as more solar and wind sources come online.

Allete said it hopes to have the line completed by 2029. It also wants to operate the line and have 35% ownership.

“This innovative project is an important step toward a resilient and reliable energy grid across a wide area of the country and ties into important transmission projects being developed in the Upper Midwest and the Western Interconnection,” Allete CEO Bethany Owen said a news release last week.

Interconnected grids and additional transmission lines are needed to provide reliable power as more electricity comes from renewable sources.


This line would allow for 3,000 megawatts of transfer capacity among the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the Western Interconnection and the Southwest Power Pool energy markets. Doing so “will help mitigate the impact of extreme weather events and accommodate the growing demand for electricity,” Allete said in the release.

North Plains Connector transmission line.jpg
Gary Meader / Duluth News Tribune

“It is no secret that the U.S. is in desperate need of new electric transmission capacity, and the North Plains Connector will provide resiliency and reliability benefits for decades to come.” Grid United CEO Michael Skelly said.

The project is just one of many new transmission lines planned throughout the U.S. and Midwest.

Last year, Minnesota Power, a division of Allete, announced it was teaming up with Great River Energy, which provides electricity to cooperatives across the state, to build a 345-kilovolt line from central to northern Minnesota.

When completed by 2030, the $1 billion project will stretch from Minnesota Power’s Iron Range Substation in Itasca County to Great River Energy’s Benton County Substation and then to a new Great River Energy substation in Sherburne County, Minnesota.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at or 218-723-5332.
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