News | December 13, 2013

US Midcontinent ISO Approves $1.48B Of Transmission Investment

The US Midcontinent Independent System Operator's board of directors unanimously approved the ISO's 2013 transmission expansion plan, which includes $1.48B of investment in 317 new projects.

MISO has put together annual transmission expansion plans, known as MTEPs, since 2003. The MTEP has led to about $6.2B of completed projects and about $17.9B in total investment since 2003, according to the 2013 MTEP report.

The $1.48B of new transmission investment approved by MISO's board on Thursday is in line with the roughly $1.47B recommended in last year's MTEP but well below 2011's MTEP, which saw about $6.51B in recommended new transmission investment and included MISO's first multi-value project portfolio.

The new projects recommended in the 2013 MTEP include 79 baseline reliability projects needed to meet North American Electric Reliability Corporation reliability standards. The total cost for these projects is about $372M.

Three of the new recommended projects are generator interconnection projects, with a total estimated cost of about $15M.

The remaining 235 projects, totaling $1.1B of investment, are in the "other" category. That covers projects that do not qualify as market efficiency projects but could provide advantages, such as supporting lower-voltage transmission or providing local economic benefits, according to MISO's MTEP report.

The bulk of the recommended new investment is in MISO West, which accounts for about $927M of the total, while MISO East accounts for about $334M and MISO Central accounts for about $224M, according to the MTEP report. Wisconsin, Michigan and Iowa were the states with the most new investment in this year's cycle, according to the report.

JUST ONE COST-SHARING PROJECT

Only one project in 2013 MTEP is eligible for cost sharing. That project is a $7.9M generator interconnection project for a 59.4 MW expansion of the Harvest Wind farm in Michigan. Half of the costs for the project will be paid by the generator; the rest will be allocated to load in the International Transmission Company pricing zone.

The fact that only one new recommended project qualified for cost sharing reflects the new standards MISO is using for cost sharing of baseline reliability projects, according to the report. In March, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved MISO's proposal to allocate all baseline reliability project costs to the pricing zone where the project is located.

Since MISO implemented cost sharing in the 2006 MTEP, a total of about $8.88B of investment in 154 projects has been eligible for cost sharing, according to the MTEP report. MTEP 2012 included about $507M worth of cost-shared projects.

The MTEP 2013 report also included updates on previously approved projects. More than 98% of the 598 projects approved in MTEP 2012 are in service, on track or have encountered reasonable delays, according to the report.

The report also noted that the projects included for approval and in Appendix B represent about 10,442 miles of new or upgraded transmission lines within a 10-year horizon, adding to the MISO system's roughly 49,500 miles of existing transmission lines. Projects included in Appendix B have been identified as addressing one or more transmission issue but are generally still in the planning phase or under review by MISO.

SOURCE: Platts