Fresh Energy Statement: MISO approves $10.3 billion grid investment for the Upper Midwest

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On July 25, 2022, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) approved $10.3 billion of investments in new long-range transmission projects across the upper Midwest. MISO operates the wholesale electric power market for Minnesota and 14 other states, ensuring regional reliability, and planning new transmission lines for the electric grid of the future.

This transmission plan includes three new transmission lines over the next 8 years along existing rights of way across central to northern Minnesota and from south central Minnesota to Wisconsin with final in-service dates expected in 2028 and 2030. These transmission lines will help reliably connect renewables like wind and solar to customers across Minnesota and neighboring states.

“This is the largest single long-range transmission investment package approved to date in the United States,” said Fresh Energy’s Mike Schowalter, senior policy associate, clean electricity at Fresh Energy. “Right now in Minnesota, we have areas where electricity generation from wind is consistently performing, but we can’t get all of that energy where it is most in demand because our transmission lines do not have the capacity we need. This transmission investment will start to solve that problem and enable massive carbon reductions. MISO has done a great job bringing this transmission plan forward, but this is just the beginning as we need more, and we need more soon.”

This transmission portfolio with 18 major lines throughout the Midwest is the first of at least four such plans that are expected to be approved by MISO over the coming years. Fresh Energy will continue to actively work with MISO to ensure that future high voltage transmission investments help Minnesota reach its goal of 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040. We will also be heavily involved in the proceedings before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission by providing expert research and testimony, helping Minnesotans engage in the process, and in building public support for the work—all to ensure that the lines approved today will be built in a just, equitable, and cost-effective way.

Looking for more detail? Read Fresh Energy’s blog post digging deeper into Tranche 1 here.