The utilities making up Grid North Partners have identified 19 transmission project upgrades that they expect to be built over the next three years.
The projects, which span Minnesota and touch eastern South Dakota, aim to enable more low-cost renewable energy to be delivered from western Minnesota to customers throughout the region by reducing congestion on the transmission system.
The construction of new generation resources has been outpacing the construction of new transmission lines, especially in western Minnesota, putting limitations on the electric transmission system and preventing the most economic energy generation, often low-cost renewable energy, from being delivered to customers throughout the region, Grid North Partners said in a statement.
When the transmission system is unable to move electricity from the most economic generation, market prices rise and the lowest-cost generation often needs to be curtailed, resulting in higher electricity costs, Grid North Partners said, adding that those savings help ensure continued access to low-cost electricity for utility customers and cooperative members throughout the region.
Grid North Partners is a mix of 10 investor-owned and not-for-profit cooperative and municipal utilities working together to ensure continued safe, reliable and cost-effective electric service to customers in the Upper Midwest.
The Grid North Partners include Central Municipal Power Agency/Services, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, Rochester Public Utilities, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, WPPI Energy, and Xcel Energy.
“We have individually made several improvements to our systems to reduce congestion, but working together has allowed us to holistically study the system and identify these additional 19 solutions that can be quickly implemented on a coordinated basis,” Grid North Partners said in a joint statement. “This work will help us maintain reliable service, keep electric prices low and achieve clean energy goals for customers and members.”
The 19 identified projects are planned to be built over the next three years and are expected to provide economic savings for customers in excess of the investment, Grid North Partners said.
The Grid North Partners utilities say they plan to reach out to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, the regional transmission grid operator, and their respective communities about each of these upcoming projects, which primarily include upgrading existing transmission lines and substations to increase system capacity.