More transmission? CapX 2050? They’re NUTS!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on August 19, 2019 @ 6:09 pm

First there was CapX 2020 transmission (following Arrowhead transmission, which was supposed to be the be-all and end-all of transmission)(and the SW MN 345kV line, precursor to CapX 2020. CapX transmission was based on a forecasted 2.49% increase in demand, which as we know, didn’t happen.

And there was the MISO 17 project MVP Portfolio:

Tomorrow, the Wisconsin Public Service Commission is making its decision regarding the Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission project, the southern part of MVP #5 above, and the LAST of the MVP projects to go through state administrative approval.

So today, this press release:

FINAL-CapX 2020 Press Release

And this in the STrib:

Minnesota utilities will study if the $2B CapX2020 grid improvements were enough

The study beginning in January will look at whether renewable energy goals and other factors will bolster need to build out more improvements on transmission grid. 

By Mike Hughlett Star Tribune AUGUST 19, 2019 — 3:05PM

Photo: DAVID JOLESA utility worker assesses electrical power lines in south Minneapolis.

Minnesota’s largest power companies and several other Upper Midwest utilities will study how their transmission network must be bolstered to meet increasingly aggressive renewable energy goals.

The study is being launched at a time when space on the region’s Midwest’s grid is already tight — even after a $2 billion transmission expansion that was completed just a couple of years ago.

That project, called CapX2020, was the work of Xcel Energy, Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Otter Tail Power and seven other electricity providers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Dakotas. CapX2020 took over seven years to complete and included 800 miles of new high-voltage lines.

Ten of the 11 utilities involved in the earlier project Monday announced the “CapX2050” study, which they are aiming to complete in January. The study “will look at maintaining a safe, reliable and cost-effective electric grid as the system adds more carbon-free energy,” the utilities said in a statement.

CapX2020 was the largest transmission project in the Upper Midwest since the 1970s, and it was aimed partly at freeing up power line capacity for burgeoning renewable energy production.

The U.S. electrical grid was built to serve large centralized power plants, but wind and solar farms are more dispersed, often requiring transmission build outs. Xcel has stated plans to produce 100% carbon-free power by 2050, while other utilities also are planning for significantly more renewables.

Also, Minnesota’s DFL Party has strongly backed raising Minnesota’s overall carbon-free energy goal to 100% by 2050.

The CapX2020 project isn’t enough to meet those long-term needs and the grid is essentially “at capacity,” an energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Star Tribune last year.

Xcel’s latest long-term resource plan, filed this spring, came to a similar conclusion. “Many of these (CapX2020) lines planned in the early 2000s and completed over the recent past are already fully-or-nearly-fully subscribed,” the plan said.

So that said, here’s Xcel Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan’s Appendix on transmission:

The schedule for IRP hearings was just released, it’s in October, so there’s time to make time for it:

We know Xcel Energy gets a “handsome” rate of return for transmission capital expenditures (hence “CapX transmission), so of course they want to build more.

How about shutting down some of those coal plants, and freeing up some capacity? How about siting solar on every rooftop, over every parking lot, putting the generation at load so we don’t need transmission? Oh, but wait, that makes too much sense, especially where a utility wants to keep control of the generation, and the expenditures, and rake in the dough.

Time to pay attention to the IRP. URP!



image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace