Expanding the grid while maintaining reliability, resiliency

Courtesy: Great River Energy (GRE)

The way electricity is produced is undergoing a dramatic transformation to include much more renewable energy resources.
Because the energy resources used to serve our members are changing, the regional power grid that delivers electricity needs to change, too. Great River Energy, wholesale power supplier to Steele-Waseca Cooperative Electric, is investing in new transmission infrastructure to ensure we maintain a reliable, resilient and flexible grid, and enhance its stability long term.

Regional transmission lines transport bulk electricity across the region at high voltages. One of these new regional projects is the Northland Reliability Project, which is being jointly developed by GRE and Minnesota Power. It will run from Minnesota Power’s Iron Range Substation near Grand Rapids to a new substation near Becker. The two utilities submitted their application for a Certificate of Need and Route Permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in August. If approved, construction is expected to begin in 2027 with an in-service date of 2030.

This project, and others like it, will support continued reliable electric service in northern and central Minnesota, as well as the greater Upper Midwest region. It is being developed with two significant technology additions: more resilient structures to better withstand wind, and twisted pair conductors, which are more resilient to icing from winter weather.

One of the biggest weather-related threats to the transmission system in Minnesota is an ice storm with wind during the winter. Great River Energy’s new standard design includes structures that are strong enough to withstand the highest wind speeds recorded in the previous 300 years.

GRE’s transmission employees have specific, organized efforts underway to continually address resilience and ensure electric service to its member-owner cooperatives, including Steele-Waseca. New transmission projects, like the Northland Reliability Project, will allow the power that comes to Steele-Waseca and is passed on to our members to be cleaner and more reliable than ever before.