The board of directors of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator on Dec. 8 unanimously approved MISO’s Transmission Expansion Plan 2011, bringing more than $2bn in annual benefits for decades to Midwest energy consumers.
MISO also said that when integrated into the existing power transmission network, the projects approved in MTEP11 will improve system reliability, connect 2,700 MW of queued generation and lower the cost of delivered energy, while enabling energy policy mandates.
MTEP11 recommends 215 new transmission infrastructure projects, including 16 multi-value projects. Together with a previously approved MVP, the 17 MVPs will create $15.5bn to $49.2bn in net present value economic benefits over a 20- to 40-year timeframe.
Noting that MTEP11 includes projects by its subsidiary, Ameren Transmission Company, Ameren (NYSE:AEE) said in a statement that the company will begin work on expansion plans to invest about $1.3bn over 10 years.
The company’s approved projects are a part of the Grand Rivers projects, consisting of the Illinois Rivers and Spoon River transmission line projects in Illinois, and the Mark Twain transmission line project in Missouri, which address regional transmission needs as well as public policy goals.
Ameren also said the Illinois Rivers project, preliminarily estimated to cost $860m, will span 331 miles with a new 345-kV transmission line, crossing the Mississippi River near Quincy, Ill., continuing east across Illinois to the Indiana border.
The Spoon River project in Illinois, preliminarily estimated to cost $180m, will span 70 miles of new 345-kV transmission line from Oak Grove to Galesburg, Ill., continuing near Peoria, Ill.
The Mark Twain project in Missouri, preliminarily estimated to cost $230m, will span 89 miles in Missouri of new 345-kV transmission line from the Iowa border to Adair, Mo., on to Palmyra, Mo.
In a separate statement, Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK) said Pioneer Transmission, a joint venture formed by Duke and American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) in 2008, will begin engineering, permitting and siting activities in 2012 on a 66-mile, 765-kV electric transmission line in Indiana between the existing Greentown substation, about 15 miles east of Kokomo, and a new substation called New Reynolds, about 20 miles north of Lafayette.
The project was designated as one of the MVPs included in the MTEP11, the company said, adding that the estimated cost of the line is $245m.
Another project approved is the Brookings County-Hampton project part of CapX2020.
Priti Patel and Terry Grove, co-executive directors of CapX2020, said in a separate statement that MISO’s analysis demonstrates that all MISO utilities will benefit from the MVP projects, regardless of their location. “The tariff provides the certainty necessary for utilities to begin regulatory processes, construction and project plans,” they said.
CapX2020 utilities plan to begin construction of the Brookings County-Hampton project in April 2012, a necessary step to increasing electric reliability and enabling new renewable energy connections in the region, they said.
Also among the approved projects were American Transmission Company’s three candidate MVP projects: the Badger Coulee Transmission Line Project, Dubuque-Cardinal and Pleasant Prairie-Zion Energy Center transmission line project.
According to TransmissionHub data, the Badger Coulee project is a 150-mile, 345-kV line that will originate north of La Crosse, Wis., continue south to the North Madison substation near Vienna, Wis., then extend further south to the Cardinal substation in southern Wisconsin.
The Dubuque County Cardinal Project is a 110-mile, 345-kV line that originates from Northern Iowa County, Iowa, and ends at Middleton, Dane County, Wisc.
The Pleasant Prairie-Zion project involves building an estimated 5.3-mile, 345-kV line from Pleasant Prairie, Wis., to Zion Energy Center in Illinois. The project is estimated to cost $29m and be completed by 2014.
“The next step is for us to continue our practice of working with stakeholders, local communities and state regulators to get these projects completed so that electricity users can benefit from greater reliability, lower energy delivery costs and access to renewable resources,” ATC said.
The MTEP11 MVP portfolio provides broad regional benefits commensurate with costs and supports approved state and federal energy policy mandates in the MISO region. In total, MISO added, the portfolio will deliver benefits of up to three times its costs. For retail customers, that means $23 in benefits from lowered delivery energy costs for about $11 a year in investment, or a 109% return.
MISO said benefits include $12.4bn to $40.9bn from enabling low-cost generation to displace higher-cost generation; $28m to $87m from more efficient dispatch of operating reserves; $111m to $396m from reductions in energy wasted on transmission losses, reducing future generation investment required to serve those losses; and $226m to $794m in avoided costs for reliability projects that would otherwise need to be constructed.
“The portfolio of [MVPs] will not only improve regional reliability, but it also will create up to 39,800 construction and 74,000 total annual jobs and generate up to $49.2bn in benefits from the use of lower-cost generation and reductions in energy wasted through transmission losses,” MISO President and CEO John Bear said in the statement.
Through the use of a low-cost generation siting system developed in collaboration with MISO stakeholders, state regulatory officials and transmission owners, MVPs optimize portability for wind generation while minimizing distances from planned transmission to other fuel sources, helping the region’s transition to new generation facilities.
Among other things, MISO said it recently filed with FERC additional revisions to its process that facilitates greater efficiencies in bringing projects online to serve customer energy demands. As of October, MISO’s queue reform process has supported more than 286 projects, or 46,566 MW, 89% of them wind projects.
In a separate statement, Rob Gramlich, senior vice president for public policy with the American Wind Energy Association, applauded the board’s action.
“It will allow the region to build a robust transmission grid that will bring reliability and economic benefits to the region as well as smoothing the way for the Midwest to tap its considerable wind resources and unlock associated manufacturing and supply chain jobs throughout its footprint,” he said.