ISOs Moving Ahead With New Transmission

glowing transmission lines

As demand for more reliable power increases, and as more and more distributed energy resources (DERs) are being built around the nation and need to tap into the grid, the demand for new and improved transmission lines is becoming greater.

Independent systems operators (ISOs) are responding. One of the latest to do so is the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which, in late July, approved a multi-billion-dollar portfolio of long-range transmission projects.

MISO covers all or a portion of 15 states – Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wisconsin, as well as the Canadian province of Manitoba.

MISO’s initial $10.3 billion investment includes 18 transmission projects in MISO’s Midwest Subregion. This “Tranche 1” portfolio is the first of four planned tranches in MISO’s Long-Range Transmission Planning (LRTP) process.

“These critical projects are needed to begin to integrate new generation resources outlined in MISO member and states plans and increase resiliency in the face of severe weather events,” said MISO.

“We appreciate the spirit of collaboration and the hard work that MISO members and stakeholders have invested in these projects and look forward to continued discussion around future tranches,” said MISO’s Chief Executive Officer John Bear. “We also recognize the effort and strong support for LRTP from various regulators and policymakers in the states, including state utility commissions and governors.”

Analysis conducted by MISO as part of the LRTP initiative indicate that “Tranche 1” benefits will conservatively be well in excess of costs, with a benefit-to-cost ratio of at least 2.2 for all resource zones in MISO’s Midwest Subregion. “Benefit metrics include congestion and fuel savings, avoided capital costs of local resource investment, avoided transmission investment, resource adequacy savings, avoided risk of load shed, and decarbonization,” said MISO. “The cost allocation approach for this portfolio has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).”

According to Clair Moeller, MISO’s president and chief operating officer, MISO’s LRTP process is focused on working collaboratively with its stakeholder community to design the transmission system that is needed for continued reliable and resilient operations. “These projects will support the reliable, affordable transition of the generation fleet,” he said.

In addition, according to MISO, while “Tranche 1” represents an important start, further work is required in order to ensure reliability. To this end, MISO’s “Tranche 2” efforts will also focus on MISO Midwest Subregion, “Tranche 3” will focus on MISO South, and “Tranche 4” will address the limitations on power exchange between the MISO Midwest and South Subregions.

As a way to reduce construction costs, reduce impact on local areas and communities, and shorten implementation times, MISO will be using existing transmission corridors to plan this portfolio of projects.


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