What Impedes Transmission - Bill Opalka

How to Move 57 Gigawatts

Oct 22, 2010 - Bill Opalka - renewablesbiz.com

It's not easy, but a transmission joint venture is trying

A report for transmission needs in the Upper Midwest was recently released by the joint-venture company that wants to access tremendous wind resources.

Electric Transmission America (ETA), a transmission joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company released its Phase Two report for transmission needed to support renewable energy development, primarily wind, in the Upper Midwest.

ETA, along with several utilities and transmission operators in the region are looking for ways to transmit that generation to load centers to the east. For years the so-called "Saudi Arabia of wind" has had limited access to the major markets, starting with Chicago and moving farther east.

The Strategic Midwest Area Renewable Transmission Study (SMARTransmission Study) wanted to review alternate routes for extra-high voltage transmission that could support the integration of 56.8 gigawatts of nameplate wind generation within North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan and Ohio.

The transmission alternatives chosen for economic analysis during Phase 2 were determined during Phase 1 of the study.

Phase Two of the study determined that the conceptual transmission overlays identified in the first phase of the study would have similar economic and environmental impacts. The alternatives include a conceptual overlay that totals nearly 8,000 miles and uses primarily 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage (EHV) transmission lines, one that totals over 7,600 miles and includes both 765-kV and high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) lines, and one totaling more than 8,600 miles that combines over 4,400 miles of 345- kV and 3,900 miles of 765-kV transmission lines.

"Determining the level of transmission needed to achieve the renewable energy goals of the Midwest ISO states and their neighbors was the focus of this landmark study. The SMARTransmission study evaluated a variety of transmission options and presents three conceptual transmission expansion plans that would be capable of reliably transporting nearly 57 gigawatts of wind-generated power to load centers in the eastern part of the study area," said Lisa Barton, ETA president.

The SMARTransmission study's goal was to develop a 20-year transmission plan that ensures reliable electricity transport, provides an efficient transmission system to integrate new generation and foster efficient markets, minimizes environmental impacts, and supports state and national energy policies.

The study was designed to incorporate a high level of stakeholder input, including representatives from investor-owned utilities, state utility commissions, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, municipalities and wind developers.

ETA is a joint venture between subsidiaries of AEP and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company to build and own electric transmission assets. The joint venture is a 50-50 partnership organized to identify and invest in high-voltage transmission projects (345 kV or higher) located in North America outside of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT).

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