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How we plan now will shape our energy future

Electricity is so reliable it can be easy to take for granted. We stay awake long past sundown, enjoy cool air from our air conditioners and rely on electronic devices at work and home. Power lines rarely come to mind … until one hot summer day, or one cold winter evening, when the lights go out.

That's why Great River Energy continuously monitors the system, participates in studies and works with other utilities to plan for future needs.

The role of transmission in our energy future

The power line system is an important part of any conversation today about increased use of electricity, conservation or renewable energy. To meet the future needs of our member cooperatives and the region, the power line system must remain strong enough to deliver electricity reliably. Sometimes that means building new transmission lines. Our future transmission needs are being driven in part by:

Minnesota Renewable Energy Integration and Transmission Study (MRITS)

The Minnesota Renewable Energy Integration and Transmission Study (MRITS) is an engineering study of increasing the Minnesota Renewable Energy Standard to 40 percent by 2030 and to higher proportions thereafter, while maintaining system reliability. The report, which was filed November 5, 2014, is linked here. This cutting-edge study was mandated last year by the Minnesota Legislature as part of the Omnibus Energy Bill. The legislation required that all Minnesota utilities and transmission owners participate in the study, in coordination with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). Great River Energy provided coordination and technical leadership for the study on behalf of Minnesota transmission owners.

State-wide planning with other Minnesota utilities

Great River Energy participates in a planning process the state of Minnesota requires to help ensure the integrity of the state's electric transmission system. All of Minnesota’s transmission-owning utilities must participate in this process, which is referred to as the biennial planning process. Together, Minnesota’s utilities study the state’s transmission needs and file a long-term plan with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC). The plan is filed every other year, on odd-numbered years, and is called Minnesota Transmission Projects Report.

Public input is encouraged throughout the biennial planning process. The utilities involved have joined together to make information about the planning process readily available and to create opportunities for the public to share input. Visit minnelectrans.com to:

See the bigger picture in the MTEP Report

Great River Energy is a member of a regional transmission organization called MISO or the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator. Each year MISO details projects that are being planned in the region in a report called the MISO Transmission Expansion Planning Report (MTEP). Each utility that is a member of MISO must participate in the MTEP process. The latest MTEP reports are available at midwestiso.org. Click on “Planning.”

Each of the MTEP Reports separates transmission projects into three categories and lists them in appendices as follows: 

Generally, when projects are first identified, they are listed in Appendix C, and then they move up to Appendix B and to Appendix A as they are further studied and ultimately brought forth for construction. Some projects never advance to the final stage of actually being approved and constructed. 

The MTEP process is ongoing at all times at MISO. Generally utilities submit a list of their newly proposed projects in September. MISO staff evaluates these projects over the next several months and prepares a draft of the annual MTEP Report around July of the following year. After review by utilities and other interested parties, the MISO board of directors usually approves the report in December. The process continues with another report finalized the following December.

The MTEP report and planning process provides many benefits to those interested in projects that are being planned:

Participating in MTEP meetings

Throughout each MTEP cycle, meetings are conducted to help projects progress and to keep stakeholders informed. MISO provides numerous opportunities for the utilities, interested persons and the general public to keep advised of these proceedings and to actually participate in transmission planning discussions.  Anyone interested in the annual planning process can contact MISO at clientrelations@misoenergy.org and arrange to receive information. Anyone can subscribe to mailing lists for Planning Advisory Committee and Planning Subcommittee meetings.

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