Minnesota Power, the utility serving the Arrowhead region, is proposing a new transmission line from Winnipeg to the Iron Range to bring additional hydropower to northern Minnesota.
Last month, Minnesota Power signed a deal to buy 250 megawatts of hydroelectric power from the Canadian utility Manitoba Hydro, beginning in 2020. But to get that power, a new high-voltage transmission line is needed to bring it across the border.
Minnesota Power spokeswoman Amy Rutledge said the electricity will help power new mining projects.
"It's going to allow us to not only bring in carbon free energy, but also to support some expected growth on the Iron Range as well," Rutledge said.
Rutledge said the utility wants stable hydropower to help balance its investment in more erratic wind power in North Dakota.
"With the wind, we're meeting Minnesota's renewable energy standard," she said. "By bringing in hydro, that's a carbon-free energy, and so that will allow us to lessen our dependence on coal, cut emissions within our fleet, and it's also a low-cost resource."
The transmission line to the Iron Range is expected to be completed by 2020. A smaller line from the Range to Duluth, designed to allow the movement of more renewable energy across the Upper Midwest, is also being considered. Total project costs are unknown.