Clean energy organizations celebrate the state court approval of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line

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Clean Grid Alliance logo, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy logo, and Fresh Energy logo.

Line will enable up to 20 Gigawatts of Renewable Energy

Clean Grid Alliance (CGA), Fresh Energy, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA) applaud the approval of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line, after years of litigation.

The Cardinal-Hickory Creek Transmission Line project is the last of the 17 Multi-Value Project (MVP) portfolio of transmission lines approved by the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) in 2011. Thanks to Judge Frost’s ruling today, we are one step closer to completing construction of the final leg of this line so it can move forward and enable the connection of 115 renewable generation projects from six states. Combined, nearly 20 gigawatts (GW) of low-cost renewable generation are relying on Cardinal-Hickory Creek to be completed. That could power about 15 million homes.

“The court’s decision is a major win for renewable energy as this line will help deliver more clean energy to our neighbors to the east while providing greater resilience to the electric grid as a whole,” said Mike Schowalter, Senior Manager, Wholesale Electric Grid Transition at Fresh Energy. “This decision, alongside MISO’s recent approval of a $10.3 billion portfolio of transmission lines like Cardinal-Hickory Creek, demonstrates how crucial the court’s decision is today. The decision will not only support Cardinal-Hickory Creek but will also provide greater clarity for newer transmission lines approved in 2022 and those anticipated for approval in 2024.”

“Today is a great day!” said Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt. “We have been needing – and waiting – for this line for 12 years. And in that time, our society’s demand for clean electricity has grown even greater. Several states have enacted clean energy goals since 2011. That means we need this line – and much more – to meet their carbon reduction goals and improve the reliability of the grid to boot. There is great demand on our electric grid these days, so seeing Cardinal-Hickory Creek get across the finish line is a huge win. We are grateful to everyone who has worked tirelessly toward this positive outcome.”

“This decision in favor of the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line is an exciting win for the environment. This line was well-designed and well-vetted to minimize its environmental impact, and its construction will result in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and more clean, renewable energy in the Midwest. This transmission line is critically needed for the clean energy transition, and this decision recognizes just that,” said Amelia Vohs, Regulatory Attorney, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

The MVPs were originally projected to cost an estimated $5.2 billion, and support about 25,000 megawatts of new clean generation. Approximately 28 GW of wind has come online since the MVPs were approved in 2011, and all the lines are already fully subscribed.

No other transmission project in the Midwest has undergone the kind of litigation that the Cardinal-Hickory Creek line has endured. MISO has approved 18 Long-Range Transmission Plan projects that will enable 53 GW of renewable energy, and thousands of jobs. There are three more tranches of transmission being planned by MISO. “Everyone says they want a clean energy economy, but to get there we need transmission. You can’t have one without the other, and there is no time to waste. Our clean energy transition will not be possible without more transmission, and lots of it. Every delay cost ratepayers more money and having Cardinal-Hickory Creek delayed for more than a decade has resulted in operating limits on existing wind farms, extreme congestion, and curtailments,” said Soholt. “Clean Grid Alliance is very pleased that construction on the remainder of Cardinal-Hickory Creek can move forward.