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MISO Board approves USD10.3 billion LRTP [free access]

July 25, 2022

The Midcontinent Independent Service Operator’s (MISO) Board has approved 18 new high-voltage transmission lines in its Midwest region, which will add 53 GW of wind, solar, hybrid and stand-alone battery projects as per state and utility clean energy goals in its northern and central regions.


The USD10.3 billion investment is divided into four tranches in MISO’s Long-Range Transmission Planning (LRTP) process. The Tranche 1 portfolio consists of eleven 345 kV transmission projects that could support existing utility-integrated resource plans and state clean energy goals in the grid operator's northern region, which includes all or parts of Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota. The portfolio reflects a cost-effective set of solutions that enable delivery of energy to support future energy requirements of MISO customers.


The 345 kV lines include Jamestown–Ellendale, Bigstone–Alexandria and Iron Range–Benton between western Minnesota and Dakotas; Wilmarth–North Rochester–Tremval–Eau Claire–Jump River and Tremval–Rocky Run–Columbia between Minnesota and Wisconsin; Webster–Franklin– Morgan Valley and Beverly–Sub 92 in Iowa; Orient–Fairport–Zachary–Maywood–Meredosia and Zachary–Thomas in northern Missouri; and Madison–Ottumwa–Skunk River–Ipava–Maple Ridge, Tazewell–Brokaw-Paxton–Gilman–Morrison–Reynolds–Hiple–Duck Lake, Paxton–Sidney and Oneida–Nelson Road across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.


The projects were designed to maintain grid reliability amid a changing generation mix, but MISO expects that it will save up to USD19.9 billion in congestion and fuel costs over the course of 40 years, as well as between USD23.2 billion and USD52.2 billion in present value net benefits.


Furthermore, MISO will announce the projects to go through competitive bidding and those assigned to incumbent utilities due to state laws, on August 8, 2022. It also aims to release a schedule for upcoming requests for proposals (RfP) on August 24, 2022 and issue the first RfP by September 23, 2022.


Some of the above projects are expected to come online in 2028.


In a related development, a coalition of ratepayer advocates, including the Industrial Energy Consumers of America, Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, Resale Power Group of Iowa and industrial customers, has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to direct the Midcontinent Independent Service Operator (MISO) to disregard state-level right-of-first-refusal (ROFR) laws for projects selected through the grid operator's Long-Range Transmission Planning (LRTP) process. ROFRs give incumbent transmission owners the first right to construct and own proposed transmission facilities within their own service territories.


The complaint (EL22-78) was filed on July 22, 2022, before MISO's board of directors approved the Tranche 1 portfolio. .

The coalition’s issue is that only about USD1 billion of the USD10.3 billion in project costs will be subject to FERC's requirements for competitive bidding, because about USD5.5 billion of those costs are covered by ROFR laws enacted by states following the publication of FERC's transmission planning and cost allocation rule (Order No. 1000).


The coalition requested FERC to ascertain that MISO's current state ROFR tariff regulation is unjust and unreasonable under the Federal Power Act, because it forces MISO to automatically assign projects in states with ROFR laws to incumbent utilities without competitive bidding and solicitation, which has been shown to significantly reduce costs for consumers.


The coalition also requested FERC to order MISO to amend its tariff to acknowledge that it will not account or comply with state ROFRs in its determination of the more efficient or cost-effective transmission developer selected for regionally cost-allocated projects.


In addition, the coalition requested for an interim order as soon as possible, directing MISO to postpone its assignment of the USD5.5 billion in project costs subject to ROFRs, until the complaint is resolved.