MISO: Board approves 353 transmission projects, representing $2.6bn investment

The Midcontinent ISO (MISO) on Dec. 7 said that its board of directors has approved 353 transmission projects, representing an investment of $2.6bn, as part of the 2017 MISO Transmission Expansion Plan (MTEP) that is aimed at improving energy access and reliability.

The upgrades included in MTEP17 ensure the continuing reliability of the regional grid; interconnect new generation supplies; provide for increased market efficiency; and reduce congestion between MISO and neighboring regions, MISO said.

The plan includes five interregional Targeted Market Efficiency Projects (TMEPs) approved in partnership with the PJM Interconnection board of directors, MISO said, noting that TMEPs are designed to facilitate low-cost and high-value transmission projects to benefit customers and improve seams coordination with MISO’s neighbor.

The approved projects involve upgrades to existing facilities along the MISO-PJM seam in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio, MISO said. 

The board also signaled its intent to approve in early 2018 an additional MTEP17 project, the Hartburg-Sabine Junction 500-kV Market Efficiency Project in Texas, MISO said, adding that in November, at the request of the Public Utilities Commission of Texas and Louisiana Public Service Commission, MISO asked FERC to approve a new zone for Texas for cost allocation of market efficiency projects.

A decision on the proposal is expected by the end of January 2018, MISO said.

“Accordingly, the MISO board will take final action on the Hartburg-Sabine Junction 500-kV Market Efficiency Project for inclusion in MTEP17 in early February 2018,” MISO said. “Once approved, the project will be eligible for MISO’s competitive developer selection process.”

As noted in the MTEP executive summary, to plan for a range of reasonably foreseeable future outcomes, MISO studied three future scenarios for MTEP17: existing fleet, policy regulations, and accelerated alternative technologies.

The existing fleet scenario modeled minimal change to the current generation fleet with low natural gas prices and load forecast growth rates, as well as age-related retirements for coal, gas, and oil thermal units, the summary noted.

The policy regulations scenario modeled the continuation of recent trends with base natural gas prices and load forecast growth rate, additional retirement of coal units prior to the end of their useful life, and a 25% reduction in carbon emissions, according to the summary.

The accelerated alternative technologies scenario modeled a high bookend of generation fleet change with high natural gas prices and load forecast growth rate, higher levels of coal retirements reflecting economics, and a 35% reduction in carbon emissions, the summary noted.

Discussing “Generation Queue Reform,” the summary noted that a significant aspect of portfolio evolution is the need to interconnect new generation resources in an efficient manner, the summary noted, adding that FERC in January approved MISO’s latest interconnection queue reform efforts to expedite the processing of newer projects and the transition of older queued projects.

The new queue process is designed to provide more certainty in schedules and cost for the interconnection customers by having scheduled restudies as part of the process, two dedicated off-ramps for customers to withdraw and reduce their risk, and three separate cash-at-risk milestones to reduce the likelihood of non-ready projects proceeding further in the queue process, according to the summary.

With the addition of the latest interconnection requests submitted for the August Queue Cycle, MISO’s generator interconnection queue has grown to more than 350 projects, totaling 58 GW. The summary also noted that that is an unprecedented amount of requested generation driven by phase-outs of wind production tax credits and investment tax credits for solar, expected coal retirements, and state renewable portfolio standards.

MISO’s West Region alone faces more than 22 GW of generation under study and will require significant transmission to interconnect even a fraction of that level of new resources, according to the summary.

“Although the challenges are many, MISO’s generator interconnection process identified new transmission, reflected in MTEP17, which will enable over 5,000 MW of new capacity to connect to the MISO system,” the summary noted.

Discussing interregional planning, the summary noted, for instance, that MISO and PJM are on schedule to complete a two-year Coordinated System Plan Study that evaluated interregional market efficiency project proposals for potential inclusion in MTEP17 and PJM’s expansion plan, Regional Transmission Expansion Plan, or RTEP17.

One project, the new Thayer-Morrison 138-kV transmission line, continues to look promising as an interregional market efficiency project, the summary noted, adding that the study and cost allocation for that project are in the process of being finalized.

The summary also noted that MISO and the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) completed their second Coordinated System Plan (CSP) study, which identified one potential interregional project for further evaluation within each region, whereby MISO’s regional analyses determined there existed more cost-effective and efficient regional alternatives. MISO and SPP will explore process improvements to allow both RTOs to align more closely how each addresses future interregional system planning needs stemming from a dramatically changing energy future landscape expected to impact both RTOs, the summary noted.

Of the competitive transmission process, the summary noted that in response to FERC Order 1000 reforms, MISO established a process that opens up opportunities for non-incumbent transmission developers to build, own, operate, and maintain transmission in the MISO footprint.

MISO and stakeholders worked together this year through the Competitive Transmission Task Team to identify lessons learned from the first implementation of MISO’s Competitive Developer Selection Process, as well as to discuss potential process improvements that could be made to the Developer Qualification and Competitive Developer Selection Process.

The summary also said that based on those discussions, MISO filed tariff revisions in October intended to improve the efficiency, transparency, and adaptability of the Competitive Transmission Process and to scale the process to enable MISO to more cost-effectively handle multiple competitive transmission projects in a given year.

The summary noted that MISO will have its second competitive project in MTEP17 with the recommendation of the Hartburg-Sabine project as a market efficiency project.

Among other things, the summary discussed cost allocation, noting that some factors that warrant evaluation of cost allocation for future transmission projects include resource portfolio evolution, Order 1000 compliance, and changes to the MISO footprint.

Two key policy issues are under review to improve alignment of costs with benefits of economic and multi-value projects that include: defining cost allocation of sub 345-kV economic projects and refine cost allocation for multi-value projects, the summary noted.

MISO will continue to work with stakeholders to develop a proposal that addresses the two key policy issues, with that proposal expected to be presented in January 2018, according to the summary noted.  

In its statement, MISO noted that since 2003, $15.4bn of MTEP investments have been built across the MISO footprint, enhancing system reliability, reducing congestion and enabling such public policy requirements as renewable portfolio standards.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3056 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.