Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQs

The North Plains Connector is being developed by Grid United, an independent transmission company. Grid United’s mission is to modernize the United States’ electric grid to create a more resilient and efficient electric system that takes advantage of the nation’s abundant and geographically dispersed natural resources to the benefit of all consumers. The Grid United team is comprised of energy professionals with extensive experience in developing, designing, permitting, and constructing large-scale linear infrastructure across North America.

The North Plains Connector will be approximately 395 miles long, extending from an existing substation in Colstrip, Montana, to an existing substation in Center, North Dakota, and a new substation in Morton County, North Dakota. The route is still being developed and will not be finalized until input has been received from landowners, communities, and local, state and federal government officials.

By utilizing direct current technology, electricity can be sent in either direction, east or west. The North Plains Connector will transport electricity when and where it is needed. It can serve to balance the electricity needs in the Western and Eastern Interconnect grids.

Direct current (DC) is the preferred technology for moving large amounts of power over long distances, offering significant electrical, economic, and environmental advantages. DC transmission can transfer the same amount of power more efficiently and more reliably than alternating current. DC advantages include lower power losses on the line, the ability to control the power flow, and better land use due to reduced right of way footprint.

The North Plains Connector team will be talking directly with stakeholders along the route individually and at community meetings. Additionally, there will be opportunities for public input on anticipated impacts during the state and federal regulatory processes. If you would like to get in touch with the North Plains Connector team, contact us.

In Montana, the North Plains Connector will be seeking a Major Facility Siting Act (MFSA) certificate from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). In North Dakota, the project will be seeking a Corridor Certificate and Route Permit from the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Montana MFSA regulates electric transmission lines over 69kV and provides for a comprehensive review of the siting and construction of applicable transmission facilities. Through the MFSA process, the Montana DEQ serves to (1) ensure the protection of the state’s environmental resources, (2) ensure the consideration of socioeconomic impacts, (3) provide citizens with an opportunity to participate in facility siting decisions, and (4) establish a coordinated and efficient method for the processing of all authorizations required for regulated facilities.

The North Dakota PSC oversees the siting of transmission facilities under the North Dakota Siting Act. The purpose of the Siting Act is to ensure that the location, construction, and operation of new transmission facilities will produce minimal adverse effects on the environment and upon the welfare of the citizens of North Dakota.

Landowner FAQs

You agree to allow the North Plains Connector team access to conduct various ground surveys on your property. Surveys may include staking of the proposed route and boundaries as well as surveys that collect important geological, biological, and cultural information.

Yes, landowners will be compensated for granting survey permission to the North Plains Connector team.

Ground surveys are scheduled to begin in April and will continue throughout the year as weather permits. The Project will attempt to minimize impacts to properties by consolidating survey activities, but it is not uncommon for projects of this nature to require survey access on more than one occasion.

The Project will incorporate landowner feedback and survey data before submitting a route for regulatory approval. The Project route is considered “proposed” until it has been approved by state and federal regulatory bodies.

A North Plains Connector land agent will work with individual landowners to reach agreement on an Option for Easement (Option). The Option grants NPC the right, but not the obligation, to obtain an Easement Agreement (Easement) for electric transmission purposes across your property.  

The Option lays out the terms of the agreement between North Plains Connector and the landowner. It includes the compensation that the landowner will receive for the Option, an approximated sketch of the easement area, the form of the Easement that will be used if North Plains Connector exercises its option, and other terms.   

The Easement is the document that lays out North Plains Connector’s rights and its obligations with respect to the construction and operation of the Project on a landowner’s land. It includes details regarding the right-of-way and North Plains Connector’s obligations to restore the areas affected by construction. It also addresses practical issues, such as the installation of temporary fencing to protect livestock during construction. 

Yes. North Plains Connector is committed to working with landowners throughout the process to address landowners’ needs. The North Plains Connector land agents will work with landowners to understand those needs and incorporate appropriate terms into the Option and/or Easement.