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Allete, Grid United sign development agreements

Allete and North Plains Connector, a subsidiary of Grid United, this
week signed development agreements for the North Plains Connector project, a new, approximately 400-mile high-voltage direct-current transmission line from central North Dakota to Colstrip, Montana.

The agreements outline each company’s roles and responsibilities as development of the North Plains Connector accelerates. Allete and Grid United had previously signed a memorandum of understanding in January 2023 to explore development opportunities for the North Plains Connector.

The North Plains Connector will be the nation’s first HVDC transmission connection between three regional U.S. electric energy markets — the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the Western Interconnection and the Southwest Power Pool.

Open to all sources of electric generation, the project will create 3,000 megawatts of transfer capacity across all three energy markets, easing congestion on the transmission system, increasing resiliency and reliability, and enabling fast sharing of energy resources across a vast area with diverse weather patterns.

“The North Plains Connector is a much-needed link for a resilient and reliable energy grid from the Pacific coast to the Upper Midwest to support the clean-energy future,” said Allete Chair, President and CEO Bethany Owen. “Since signing the memorandum of understanding with Grid United in January, we’ve been impressed by their dedicated and thoughtful work on this project. These agreements cement our relationship with Grid United and provide a strong foundation as we pursue this major transmission investment, part of our ‘Sustainability-in-Action’ growth strategy at Allete, and we look forward to working collaboratively with others to bring this important project to fruition.”

The project represents an approximately $3.2 billion investment in Montana and North Dakota and will be a long-term energy infrastructure asset for those states. Connecting the North Dakota and Montana grids will help mitigate the impact of extreme weather events and accommodate the growing demand for electricity.

Allete expects to pursue up to 35% ownership and would oversee the line’s operation.