It’s all about need. They’re starting out with a Certificate of Need proceeding, where the applicant has to demonstrate to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that the project is needed.
To see what’s happened so far on this docket, and to subscribe so you receive notice of filings and can keep up to date, go to the PUC’s Search Docket page, and search for this docket, 12-1163.
What reasons does Minnesota Power give as the need for this line, what type of need, how much? Here’s what their Notice of Intent to File for a Presidential Permit says:
So of the ~1200 MW capacity, 250 MW is for a Power Purchase Agreement and 750 MW is for export. 1/4 is for an identified claimed need, and 3/4 is for marketing bulk power… to where? Minnesota Power doesn’t say…
Here’s their Letter of Intent:
So what’s the plan here? This is the map of options studied at MISO:
As you can see, the idea is to bring the power down from Manitoba Hydro, across northern Minnesota and Wisconsin, over the up and down toward Detroit. That map is taken from the MISO Northern Area Study, as reported to the Committee on February 12, 2013:
And starting from that map of ideas, the result is that it just doesn’t make economic sense:
So what are they going to do? Will they really go forward with only a part of it? Well, the Northern Area Study Report is pretty definite:
The Northern Area Study found that large-scale regional transmission expansion in MISO’s northern footprint (North Dakota, Minnesota, Northern Wisconsin, Michigan Upper Peninsula, and Michigan) is not cost-effective based on production cost savings, under current business as usual conditions. Economic benefits for MISO from new potentialManitoba Hydro to MISO tie-lines could be realized with minimal incremental transmission investment.
And another choice snippet:
Throughout the Northern Area Study, a total of thirty-eight different mitigation plans were proposed and evaluated. The Northern Area Study used an iterative process to refine projects. Generally, production cost saving potential for the Northern Area Study footprint was low as a result of the inclusion of the Multi-Value Project (MVP) portfolio approved in MTEP11, decreased forecasted demand growth rates, and low natural gas prices.
Here’s the entire report:
So why is Minnesota Power going forward? For the 75% market opportunity? That’s the driver for this part of the larger project to Michigan:
And here’s what Manitoba Hydro wants:
And as above, it doesn’t make economic sense. So then what? Can they build a line that they can’t justify economically??? Nope. They’ve got to demonstrate they NEED it!
Stay tuned… I’ve got to run to the Ambulance Garage in Baudette!