"It's gratifying that we've received the final decision from the Ministry to build a new power line between Ofoten and Balsfjord. This line is an important piece of the next-generation main grid. It will improve security of supply in Northern Norway and facilitate increased value creation in the region," says Auke Lont, Statnett's President and CEO.

The new power line will eliminate a bottleneck in the main grid between Nordland and Troms, and is vital for securing a reliable supply of electricity north of Ofoten. We are already experiencing periods with reduced security of supply in the grid. The reinforcement is also necessary because of the anticipated increase in consumption and plans for greater industrial activity in Northern Norway.

The power line between Ofoten and Balsfjord is also a precondition for optimal operation of the planned power line between Balsfjord and Skaidi in Finnmark.

The new power line will be approx. 160 km long, and will run from Ofoten substation in Narvik municipality, through Gratangen, Lavangen, Salangen, Bardu and Målselv municipalities, to Balsfjord substation in Balsfjord municipality in Troms County. The licence also includes expansion of the substations at Ofoten, Kvandal, Bardufoss and Balsfjord. The cost of the interconnector from Ofoten to Balsfjord has been projected at NOK 3-4 billion.

"Now that we have the final licence decision, we will proceed with the planning work," says Lont. "The next few months will be spent preparing for the construction phase and updating the plans for further progress. Under the assumption that the necessary permits are in place, we are planning to start construction in the second quarter of 2014," he concludes.