Midwest Governors Announce Transmission Initiative to Tap Wind Energy

September 22, 2008

The governors of five Midwestern states have agreed to create the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative—a planning effort aimed at removing barriers to wind energy development in the region.

Data provided by the American Wind Energy Association indicate that the five states—Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota—currently have wind projects generating a total of 3,511 megawatts (MW); however potential wind energy for those states total 399,940 MW.

The transmission initiative calls for the participating states to jointly identify wind generation resources, transmission projects, and infrastructure needed to support those resources in a cost-effective manner. Over the next year, participants will determine allocations for costs, which will help with development of a plan or tariff proposal for the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO).

The five states will coordinate efforts among state regulatory agencies, transmission companies, utilities, independent generation owners, and other key stakeholders. The states will also work closely with MISO, which is currently conducting transmission planning studies that are to be completed in 2009.

"The time is right for planning and coordination between these states in the Midwest ISO," Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty said. "As states in the region increase their use of wind energy, planning on how best to locate wind farms and other renewable sources and build the necessary transmission infrastructure to support them is crucial."

Other governors from the participating states praised the initiative. South Dakota Governor Michael Rounds, who is also the current chair of the Midwest Governor's Association, said the effort complements and meshes well with efforts being conducted within MISO and the Midwest Governors Association. Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle said the initiative matches the recommendations made in a report by Wisconsin's Global Warming Task Force. Iowa Governor Chet Culver said the cost sharing aspect is critical and he was confident that the group could work through that issue. And North Dakota Governor John Hoeven said all the states involved stand to gain from transmission investments that are timely, well-designed, and regionally coordinated.

The first meeting for the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative is scheduled for October, after which members plan to provide a project timeline, scope statement, work plan, and list of stakeholders.

For more information, see Governor Pawlenty's September 18 press release and the U.S. Wind Energy resources page on the AWEA Web site.