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Studies and Reports > 2011 MN Biennial Report > Executive Summary

Transmission Projects Report 2011
Chapter 1: Executive Summary
pp. 1-3

1.0   Executive Summary 

The 2011 Biennial Report has been prepared pursuant to Minnesota Statutes § 216B.2425, which requires utilities that own or operate electric transmission facilities in the state to report by November 1 of each odd numbered year on the status of the transmission system, including present and foreseeable inadequacies and proposed solutions. 

This is the sixth round of reports.  Reports were filed in 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2009.  All biennial reports are available on a webpage maintained by the utilities specifically for the purpose of providing information about transmission planning.  That webpage is:


This Report is a joint effort of the Minnesota Transmission Owners – those utilities that own or operate high voltage transmission lines in the state of Minnesota.  These utilities include the following:

American Transmission Company, LLC
Dairyland Power Cooperative
East River Electric Power Cooperative
Great River Energy
Otter Tail Power Company
Rochester Public Utilities
Southern Minnesota Municipal
Minnesota Power
Willmar Municipal Utilities


Minnkota Power Cooperative
Missouri River Energy Services 
Northern States Power Company
Hutchinson Utilities Commission
ITC Midwest LLC                
L&O Power Cooperative       
Marshall Municipal Utilities Power Agency 

A major purpose of the Biennial Report is to provide information about all present and reasonably foreseeable transmission inadequacies in the transmission system that have been identified. An “inadequacy” is essentially a situation where the present transmission infrastructure is unable or likely to be unable in the foreseeable future to perform in a consistently reliable fashion and in compliance with regulatory standards.  In addition, the Biennial Report provides information about the transmission planning process and about the utilities that own transmission lines in the state. 

The following is a summary of each subsequent chapter of the 2011 Biennial Report. 

Chapter 2 describes the biennial reporting requirements.  This includes a discussion of the specific information the Public Utilities Commission directed the utilities to include in the 2011 Biennial Report. 

Chapter 3 is entitled Transmission Studies.  A lengthy table of studies that have been completed in the past two years is included.  Also, the utilities describe a number of ongoing studies, both regional ones and load-serving ones.  Section 3.6 describes several other studies that are underway. 

Chapter 4 summarizes the efforts the utilities have made to keep the public advised of ongoing planning activities and transmission inadequacies.  This chapter provides information on how to keep advised of ongoing transmission planning activities by the utilities and the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO).  Because the Public Utilities Commission has granted a variance from the requirement in the rules to hold a public meeting in each transmission planning zone, there is no summary of any such meetings.  However, the utilities do report that a webinar will be held before the end of 2011 to allow interested persons to learn about and comment upon the 2011 Biennial Report. 

Chapter 5 provides general information about the six transmission planning zones in the state:  the Northwest Zone, the Northeast Zone, the West Central Zone, the Twin Cities Zone, the Southwest Zone, and the Southeast Zone.  This chapter is essentially identical to the information in the 2009 Report since the zones have not changed. 

Chapter 6 is where all the transmission inadequacies are identified. The Report identifies well over 100 separate inadequacies across the state. Each inadequacy is assigned a Tracking Number.  The Tracking Number reflects the year the inadequacy was identified and the zone in which it is located.   

In past reports information about each Tracking Number was included in the Report itself.  This year, however, rather than include complete information in the body of this Report about each Tracking Number, references are provided to where the information can be found in an annual report prepared by MISO, called the MISO Transmission Expansion Plan (MTEP) Report.  The 2011 MTEP Report, for example, would be called MTEP11. 

For each of the transmission planning zones across the state, Chapter 6 provides a table that cross-references each Tracking Number to a MTEP number and a MTEP Report in which detailed information about the project described in the Tracking Number can be found.  The MTEP Report referenced in the table will contain the kind of information about the project, such as alternatives, costs, and a schedule, as was previously set forth in the Biennial Report.  Chapter 6 also presents comprehensive instructions on how to find on the Internet the appropriate MTEP Report containing the desired information. The utilities have also attempted to indicate whether a Certificate of Need (CON) from the Public Utilities Commission might be required for a particular project selected to address a named inadequacy. 

Not all of the reporting utilities that are participating in this Report are members of MISO (the utilities that belong to MISO are identified in section 6.1), but nearly every inadequacy that has been identified falls within the responsibility of a utility that is a member.  Therefore, there are only a couple of inadequacies reported where complete information is included in this Report.  Of course, for those Tracking Numbers that were reported in a previous Biennial Report, that older Report can also be examined for information about a particular Tracking Number. 

Certain projects have been completed since the 2009 Report was filed two years ago.  These completed projects are listed in a table in the discussion for each zone in Chapter 6.  Once a project has been completed and an inadequacy addressed, the matter is closed and that particular Tracking Number is no longer reported.  The practice is to permanently close a matter only after the selected alternative has been constructed and placed into service.  In a few cases, a project has been moved to the completed table because a change in demand has eliminated the inadequacy.

Chapter 7 focuses on the 16 utilities that are jointly filing this report.  A brief description of each utility and the name and address of a contact person are provided.  Information provided in the 2009 Report on miles of transmission line has been updated. 

Chapter 8 provides an analysis of the utilities’ progress toward compliance with state Renewable Energy Standards and the transmission needs that might be required to assure compliance with upcoming RES milestones.  Not all utilities that own transmission lines are subject to the state Renewable Energy Standards, and some utilities that are not required to participate in the Biennial Report must meet the RES milestones.   All utilities subject to the RES participated in providing information for this part of the report. 

For the past several reporting periods, and again this year at the direction of the PUC, the utilities subject to the RES have provided a Gap Analysis.  A Gap Analysis is an estimate of how many more megawatts of renewable generating capacity a utility will require beyond what is presently available to meet an upcoming RES milestone of a certain percentage of retail sales from renewables.  Generally, the Gap Analysis shows that the utilities are in compliance with present standards and expect to have enough generation and transmission to meet RES milestones through 2016, although demands of neighboring states for renewable energy will undoubtedly affect what resources will be required. 

Upon receipt of this Report, the Public Utilities Commission will solicit comments from the Department of Commerce, interested parties, and the general public about the Report.  Any person interested in commenting on the Report or following the comments of others, should check the efiling docket for this matter or in some other manner contact the Public Utilities Commission.  The Docket Number is E-999/M-11-445.