Plans for $2B investment in MN’s electric grid

(ABC 6 News) – Minnesota is now moving forward to invest more than $2 billion in new transmission lines to expand the electric grid.

On July 25, 2022, the Mid-Continent Independent System Operator (MISO) unanimously approved three projects which are entirely or partially in Minnesota, representing an investment of more than $2 billion to expand and improve reliability for our electric grid.

This investment is part of $10 billion in new transmission lines planned for the Midwest under a coordinated effort by MISO, which manages the regional electric grid for 15 Midwest and Southern states, and the Canadian province of Manitoba.

The economic benefits of the transmission line expansion significantly exceed costs, with a cost-benefit ratio of $2.80 to $4 for each $1 invested in the electric grid, according to MISO analysis. The MISO plan would encompass a total of 18 projects across the Midwest Subregion, with costs shared by all electric users across that region.

The plan outlines the projects below in Minnesota (total estimate $2.23 billion)

  • Big Stone South-Alexandria-Cassie’s Crossing (estimated cost – $574 million)
  • Iron Range-Benton County-Cassie’s Crossing (estimated cost – $970 million)
  • Wilmarth-North Rochester-Tremval (estimated cost – $689 million)

“This investment in our electric grid keeps Minnesota on the path to have reliable and affordable energy into the future. We are expanding critical energy infrastructure, creating jobs and building resilient communities,” said Commerce Commissioner Grace Arnold. “Building these transmission lines will allow Minnesota’s transition to clean energy to continue, so Minnesota is powered by homegrown energy rather than by imported fossil fuels.”

“Today, wind and solar energy projects are providing family-supporting wages and benefits for LIUNA members in every corner of the state, from Hoyt Lakes to Fergus Falls to Grand Meadow to Luverne,” said Kevin Pranis, who represents the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA) Minnesota & North Dakota, a union of more than 13,000 construction laborers who build and maintain Minnesota’s energy, transportation, water and building infrastructure. “The investments approved by MISO will provide the transmission resources needed to support continued economic development and clean energy job creation across Minnesota,” He continued.

Dave Geschwind, CEO of the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), said, “The MISO plan supports the transition of SMMPA and other upper-Midwest utilities to a more carbon-free resource mix. SMMPA is proud to have been part of the original CapX2020 transmission projects that serve as the foundation for this new expansion, and we look forward to working again with our utility partners in the region on these new projects.”

Mark Kotschevar, Rochester Public Utilities General Manager, said, “Rochester Public Utilities looks forward to collaborating with our regional utility partners on these important transmission projects that will facilitate the reliable and affordable transition to a less carbon intensive energy mix in the future.”

“Xcel Energy and our partners are committed to unlocking new renewable energy while also continuing to deliver reliable and affordable electricity,” said Michael Lamb, Senior Vice President –Transmission for Xcel Energy. “The Wilmarth-North Rochester project, and other recently approved plans, move us closer to achieving our vision to deliver 100% carbon-free electricity by 2050 as we lead the nation’s clean energy transition.”

The planning for the transmission line expansion will be overseen by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). “Minnesota has a regulatory process in place to ensure the public is represented and has input in this process, and consumers are protected,” said Commerce Commissioner Arnold. The Minnesota Department of Commerce represents the public in issues being considered by the PUC.

Read more about the plan HERE.