The Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative (UMTDI) issued its final report last week on transmission planning and cost allocation issues associated with delivering renewable energy from wind-rich areas to the region’s customers. Through UMTDI, the governors of Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin collaborated to identify six renewable transmission corridors that could serve as the primary pathways to move thousands of megawatts of wind power. This buildout would cost an estimated $3 billion and serve as a backbone for future energy needs in the five-state region and potentially further east.
Considering the significant cost and shared benefits of regional transmission development, UMTDI also developed a set of general cost allocation principles. This work occurred in parallel and with similar goals to the development of the Midwest ISO’s multi-value project cost allocation proposal filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in July (Docket No. ER10-1791-000). UMTDI is deferring further development of its cost allocation principles while it monitors the progress of the Midwest ISO’s tariff filing. UMTDI does not take any position on the tariff filing, but acknowledges that construction of transmission lines in its six corridors would be very difficult without a cost sharing mechanism.
UMTDI’s renewable transmission corridors are based on the Midwest ISO’s estimate that about 8,600 MW of new renewable capacity will be needed in the region by 2025 to serve the renewable energy standards and goals of these five states. The group identified twenty “wind zones” where it would be most efficient to develop wind power based on available wind resources, existing wind generation, existing interconnection queue requests, and local geography. The six transmission corridors were chosen as the best general areas for transmission lines to move wind energy from the wind zones to load centers in a cost-effective manner.