A lot has happened in the last two decades. But, one thing stands out: CGA has been the “power behind the power” delivering our Midwest renewable energy for 20 years.
CGA has spent 20 years working “behind the light switch” to drive incredible progress for renewable energy in the Midwest, and we’re well on our way to a sustainable future of renewable energy. From advocating for policies to drive demand to ensuring there is a road to the electricity market for renewables, our work is the foundation upon which a renewable energy future is built.
As we celebrate throughout the next 12 months, we’ll be sharing some highlights from our past, exploring our vision for the future, and envisioning how CGA will help shape the future of renewable energy development in the Midwest.
We hope you’ll join us in celebrating this important milestone in our history! Here’s what you can do:
You can show your support for Clean Grid Alliance by making a special contribution to support our work to Advance Renewable Energy in the Midwest. A monthly gift of $20 would help enable us to continue our advocacy for the benefits of renewable energy.
Be sure to sign up for our Champions Newsletter, and encourage others to support our work to advance renewable energy in the Midwest.
Please follow our social media, and join us in celebrating our anniversary by sharing what clean energy means to you and why you support CGA on social media using our hashtags: #behindthepower, #behindthelightswitch, #cga20.
Launched as the centerpiece of a $4.5 million, 2-year project of the Izaak Walton League to develop renewable energy resources by the McKnight Foundation and the Energy Foundation. The project was unveiled May 1 at the National Wind Coordinating Committee (NWCC) Upper Midwest Transmission Workshop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
First Steering Committee Meeting
The first Steering Committee was held June 12, 2001. The original goals & Objectives were to:
Remove botttlenecks in the transmission system for wind
Identify high priority upgrades
Work with utilities, state and federal regulators and local communities to complete the upgrades
Provide wind energy with equal access to transmission lines and fair rates for transmission service.
Identify decision-makers at the local, state and federal levels and enlist their support for transmission improvements. Educate key decision-makers on the benefits of wind power for the region.
WOW and NWCC sponsored a transmission
workshop in St. Paul, Minn. The Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO)
transmission planners were active participants in the workshop and educated
attendees on the MISO transmission planning process. In turn, the wind
developers and other participants conveyed to MISO transmission planners the
need for long-term, comprehensive transmission planning that takes into
consideration wind development plans for the Midwest.
First Big Transmission Case
Began work on the Sioux Falls-Lakefield Junction. This 92-mile 345 kV transmission line enabled the Buffalo Ridge wind farms in southwestern Minnesota.
Midwest Wind Development Plan Projects 10,000 MW
Together with the American Wind Energy Association, Wind on the Wires developed the Midwest Wind Development Plan (Plan). The Plan was submitted
to MISO on June 1, 2002 for consideration in the MISO transmission expansion
planning process. The plan projects new wind power development in the Midwest
during the 2003-2007 timeframe at 5,500 MW with a new wind power for high
transmission case at an additional 4,500 MW, for a total of 10,000 MW.
On June 20, 2002, MISO recommended using the "high wind scenario" of 10,000 MW in their transmission planning process.
Beth Soholt Named Executive Director
The WOW steering committee approved the recommendation to
name Beth Soholt as WOW’s first executive director. The steering committee also
approved a plan to hire a half-time program assistant and to extend the
existing contract with technical consultant Matt Schuerger.
MTEP 03 Enables 10,000 MW Wind
MTEP 03 was WOW's first big project aimed at increasing the amount of wind energy on the MISO system.
Strategic Planning Retreat #1
The steering committee and the early "brain trust" gathered for dinner at Buca di Beppo in St. Paul during a strategic planning session in 2005.
Click here for a short video of others who attended this event.
Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative
WOW got the Governors from five Midwestern states together to help advocate for the Multi-Value Project portfolio of transmission lines. Governor Pawlenty of Minnesota, and the governors of Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota coordinated their efforts among state regulatory agencies, transmission companies, utilities, independent generation owners and their stakeholders to work with MISO on transmission planning studies. The goal of the UMTDI project was to identify wind generation resources, transmission projects and infrastructure needed to support those resources in a cost-effective manner.
WOW advocated for a broad cost allocation approach to pay for new transmission lines needed to delivery wind energy to the electric grid. In 2010, MISO and FERC approved the cost allocation solution put forth by WOW.
MVP Transmission Lines
Wind on the Wires advocated for the broad cost allocation of the $10 billion 17-line Multi-Value Project portfolio of transmission lines. These lines had the capability to deliver 25,000 - 29,000 megawatts of renewable energy around the Midwest.
President Bill Clinton Headlines First Gala Event
Strategic Planning Retreat
WOW's board of directors held a strategic planning retreat, which included a hard look at our overall vision and misssion.
A new mission statement was unveiled: "Advancing renewable energy in the Midwest."
This broader mission reflects our work and allows us to include work in solar, storage and other emerging technologies that provide further benefit to customers. This broader focus further recognizes that WOW members have also expanded their work beyond wind, and propted a refresh of our logo as well.
Excellence in Transmission Advocacy Award
Wind on the Wires received a special
achievement award for Excellence in
Transmission Advocacy at the 2016
Windpower Conference. Specifically, WOW was recognized for our
work on MISO's Multi Value Projects,
which have allowed 14 GW of wind to
be delivered, will provide $13-50 billion in net benefits over the next 20-
40 years, and will result in consumer
savings 2.6 to 3.9 times more than
the cost of the new transmission.
Support for the CapX2020 Transmission Projects
WOW supported the CapX2020 transmission lines, which were comprised of five specific lines and more than 800 miles of new high-voltage transmission lines that were energized between 2012 and Sept. 8, 2017 when the Big Stone South-Brookings Country transmision line was energized. These lines enabled 3,600 MW of wind development in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
Beth Soholt spoke at the event saying, “Major transmission lines, like the CapX2020 project, are
helping to unlock the potential for a major build out of wind
energy in the Midwest, while also offering important reliability
benefits for customers."
Name Change to Clean Grid Alliance
During the first "Wake up with WOW" benefit breakfast, it was announced that Wind on the Wires was rebranding. Rebranding was a necessary, thoughtful and deep dive into the essence of our brand attributes and our core work areas. Although Wind on the Wires was a much-loved name and logo, and served us very well, it was time to move forward with a name that encapsulated our work and our vision, and would help us better connect with potential new members and funders. After much reflection, and a very deliberate process, we felt 'Clean Grid Alliance' best defined the work we do and the partnerships that we develop with our members and colleague organizations to achieve our purpose of 'delivering Midwest renewable energy.’ Ellen Anderson, Executive Director of the Energy Transition Lab at the University of Minnesota, also announced that the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance (MESA) would become a program of Clean Grid Alliance.
MISO Market Reform Tour
Beth Soholt and Natalie McIntire arranged and facilitated several meetings with commissioners and staff from MN, IA,
WI, IN, MO, MS, MI, SD, and New Orleans to discuss market issues in MISO related to the conclusions of the Power
Markets of the Future report put out by the Wind Solar
Alliance. The focus was on the need to create or adjust market products or structures to facilitate the
changing resource mix in the MISO footprint. We urged
creation of a seasonable capacity construct (which MISO
is already exploring under the RAN effort), support for
the RIIA study, and the need for holistic transmission
planning that addresses reliability and economic planning
as well as generator interconnection issues .
Intervened into the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line Case
CGA intervened with MCEA and Fresh Energy into the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission line case -- the last of the MVP lines to move through the state regulatory process.
CGA held a press conference at the Wisconsin State Capitol highlighting the benefits of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek
transmission line. The press event included representatives from Apex Clean Energy, EDF Renewables, MJ Electric and the Minnesota Center for
Environmental Advocacy. Together, we made a strong case for the line and the opportunities it would provide to Wisconsin. Five media outlets
covered the event. Wisconsin Eye live-streamed the event. Three newspaper articles were published and the ABC affiliate WKOW-TV ran a spot.
Presented a Leadership and Innovation Award to Great River Energy
At the "Start your Day with CGA" virtual breakfast event entitled, "Delivering a Renewable Energy Future,” CGA presented David Saggau with a Leadership and Innovation Award.
“Over the past decade, CGA has been fortunate to work closely with Great River Energy and witness the track record of success that the GRE leadership team and company have achieved including clean energy and carbon reduction, adopting renewables, electrification, leading on building new transmission through the CapX2020 initiative, working on long-duration energy storage, service to members, and fiscal excellence. As a cooperative utility that is member owned, at the end of the day, GRE must meet member expectations while being fiscally prudent for those who pay the bills.”
CGA Receives ESIG Excellence Award
Beth Soholt received an Energy Systems Integration Group (ESIG) Award for leadership in advancing the understanding
of the need for transmission for wind integration in the Upper Midwest.