Five midwestern states look to increase renewable energy grid

Governors in five Midwestern states have identified six energy transmission corridors that could connect more than 15,000 megawatts of wind development. The five states include North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, South Dakota and Wisconsin and are looking at ways to develop these transmission lines for wind and clean energy in order to bring economic development and create a more sustainable energy grid for the region.

The study was initiated in 2008 and called the the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative (UMTDI). The Initiative works toward the goal of fixing transmission planning and cost allocation problems that limit the build out of large transmission lines in the region.

In 2009, UMTDI developed a set of cost allocation principles that can serve as a foundation for ongoing cost allocation discussions in the region and the country. It also chose 20 renewable energy zones within the five-state region to serve as proxies for the likely regional growth in renewable energy. The 15,000 megawatts of potential wind is the amount required to serve the existing clean energy objectives of the five states, and the zones provide a basis upon which additional wind can be developed for export to other regions.

The estimated cost is $3 billion, an amount that would be incurred as the system is gradually built, and that would be subject to any appropriate cost-sharing mechanisms in effect in the Midwest ISO. Iowa and Wisconsin have already taken steps to increase the renewable energy infrastructure in their states, and North Dakota Governor John Hoeven is also actively looking for ways to move energy out of North Dakota.

“The real significance of this report is that the Midwest MISO will now look at common pathways and incorporate them into plans for new projects,” Hoeven said. “Especially important is a corridor between eastern South Dakota and Ellendale, North Dakota. Together with the CapX 2020 project, which is oriented toward Minnesota and the eastern United States, this effort will result in several significant portals to start moving more energy out of North Dakota to new markets.”

Should the project go forward, the six renewable energy transmission corridors will span the five-state region, connect the 20 renewable energy zones, and, if built upon, provide for reliability and transmission congestion relief in addition to renewable energy benefits.