With the rise in wind and solar power resulting from lower prices
and higher demand, transmission development has never been more important.
However, there have been significant road blocks in the quest to create a clean
energy market and bring large amounts of renewable energy onto the grid in the
Midwest. Clean Grid Alliance (CGA) has spent the last 20 years as the
“power behind the power” working with legislators, regulators, NGO colleague
organizations, and many other stakeholders to deliver this clean energy future
across the Midwest. Significantly, CGA has been working with the Midcontinent
Independent System Operator (MISO) since its inception in 2001 on transmission
expansion to accommodate new renewable generation, facilitate an economic
energy marketplace, and ensure reliability. Curating partnerships, finding
common goals among different interests and keeping the public interest in mind
has helped move the region toward securing a clean energy future.
In 2008, CGA (then Wind on the Wires) supported bringing five Midwestern states together to study transmission needed to enhance
the grid and support a rapidly increasing clean energy push and wind buildout
in Western MISO. Then-governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, and the governors of
Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota collaborated among state
regulatory agencies, transmission companies, utilities, independent generation
owners and other stakeholders to work with MISO on the Upper Midwest
Transmission Development Initiative (UMTDI).
The goal of the UMTDI was to promote regional electric
transmission investment and cost-sharing. The following year, UMTDI
participants identified wind generation resources, transmission projects and
infrastructure needed to support those resources cost-effectively. Appropriate
cost allocation was essential for MISO to develop a concrete plan or tariff
“As states in the region increase their use of wind energy,
planning on how best to locate wind farms and other renewable sources and build
the necessary transmission infrastructure to support them is crucial,” said
Pawlenty in a 2011 press release.
In 2011, MISO approved 17 MVPs that improved the robustness and
flexibility of the electric grid for nine Midwestern states. The MVPs span
the northern MISO footprint from North Dakota to Indiana and from Michigan to
Missouri. These lines were a $10 billion dollar (in 2015 dollars) investment
forecasted to provide approximately $19.5 billion (in 2015 dollars) in
electricity cost savings. Subsequent MVP reports from MISO to the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) show the portfolio continues to return
benefits well in excess of costs.
The Midwest has not seen this significant of a transmission
expansion for decades,
- Beth Soholt
“The Midwest has not seen this significant of a transmission expansion for decades,” CGA Executive Director Beth Soholt said of the MVP
portfolio development. MISO’s decision to move forward with building new
transmission lines also helped state and local economies as billions of dollars
of investment contributed to economic growth and created thousands of jobs as
the projects came to fruition. In fact, at the height of transmission line
construction, it was difficult to find enough electricians and other trades
people to build the projects.
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These Midwestern MVP transmission lines were a crucial step in the
development of renewable energy around the region. They have delivered
25,000-29,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy around the Midwest, resulting
in cost savings to ratepayers by relieving congestion and reducing the cost to
deliver electricity to end use customers. The lines also improved system
reliability and helped states achieve state public policy requirements, such as
Renewable Portfolio Standards, without breaking the bank.
“This success story is
a testament to what CGA is capable of accomplishing,” said Soholt. “To this
day, our members and colleagues remember it among the most important
achievements in CGA’s history.”
“You need the ability to have a market to fill with renewable
energy; and then you need to get it from where it can be located to where
consumers are demanding it. Clean Grid Alliance has been at the forefront of
pushing the region ahead on both of those fronts,” says Kevin Lynch, Managing
Director of External Affairs at Avangrid Renewables.
When it comes to taking the necessary steps to create a cleaner
future, Clean Grid Alliance knows how to get things done - efficiently, effectively
and economically. CGA has delivered on that promise over the last 20 years, and
plans to continue delivering real progress in the next 20 years.
Hear from our colleagues about our involvement with Multi-Value
Projects in this