The CapX2020 utilities plan to study the transmission system that serves the Upper Midwest to identify system improvements and infrastructure upgrades that may be needed to achieve the ambitious 2050 carbon reduction goals established or proposed by utilities and policymakers. The study, which is called the CapX2050 Transmission Vision Study, will look at maintaining a safe, reliable and cost-effective electric grid as the system adds more carbon-free energy.
According to CapX2020, the study is critical to the eventual development of a comprehensive plan that will ensure the continued reliable delivery of low-cost electricity. The utilities believe an emphasis on holistic long-term planning will ensure a successful transition to a clean energy future as the Upper Midwest generation fleet transitions to higher levels of carbon-free generation, distributed generation and new energy storage technologies.
The study is not expected to identify specific transmission line projects. Rather, it is aimed at providing a conceptual understanding of what potential system constraints may be encountered in the transmission system and providing insights into operational issues that will need to be addressed. It also is intended to facilitate the transition to carbon-free resources over the next few decades. It will provide valuable data for sharing with policymakers, regulators and the public while providing opportunity for stakeholder input. The study is targeted to be completed in January 2020.
CapX2020 is a joint initiative of 10 transmission-owning utilities, including MRES, in Minnesota and the surrounding region. It was formed to plan, upgrade and expand the electric transmission grid to ensure continued reliable and affordable service. In 2017, CapX2020 successfully completed an 800-mile, nearly $2 billion grid expansion in the Upper Midwest. The projects included four 345-kV transmission lines in Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin and a 230-kV transmission line in northern Minnesota. MRES participated in two of these projects.
MISO and SPP
MRES is part of two of the nation’s regional transmission organizations. MRES became a member of the Midcontinent Independent System Operator, Inc., (MISO) in 2003 when MISO was created in a region including half of the MRES member load. In 2015, MRES became part of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), after the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which provides about 40 percent of the power used by MRES members, joined SPP. The SPP footprint includes the MRES members that are not in the MISO footprint.