Midwest grid operator OKs $2.75B in new lines

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, December 14, 2015

The Midwest’s grid operator  approved $2.75 billion in new transmission investments aimed at supporting reliable electric service and relieving congestion in the region’s 900,000 square miles of territory.

The 345 projects that will go forward between now and 2024 are the result of 18 months of regional collaboration by member companies of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), state regulators and neighboring grid operators.

“These investments in the region will continue to position MISO for future challenges and changes in the industry,” said John Bear, president and CEO of MISO.

MISO serves all or parts of 15 states from the Gulf of Mexico northward into Canada, where the province of Manitoba is also a member.

“As our region grapples with the Clean Power Plan and a shifting generation portfolio, MISO’s transmission planning efforts are even more important,” Bear said. “Ensuring a robust transmission system will allow us to meet these challenges in a way that protects reliability.”

The new projects will build on the existing 65,800 miles of transmission lines in MISO. They are enumerated in the MISO Transmission Expansion Plan 2015(MTEP).

For the first time, the MTEP includes a competitive transmission project — the Duff-Coleman 345-kilovolt line in southern Indiana. Duff-Coleman is a $67 million market efficiency project that will be eligible for competitive bidding under rules established by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Order 1000. MISO will begin the bidding process in January.

The Duff-Coleman line will be one-half of a project to be developed in collaboration with the PJM Interconnection, the Mid-Atlantic grid operator. The project “completely mitigates congestion” in Indiana and will serve and address “long-standing reliability issues” in PJM, the MTEP said.

Since the first transmission plan was issued in 2003, MISO has seen $10.5 billion in projects constructed. The region expects $3.2 billion worth of projects to go into service in 2015.