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Studies and Reports > 2011 MN Biennial Report > Biennial Report Requirements

Transmission Projects Report 2011
Chapter 2: Biennial Report Requirements
pp. 4-7

2.0   Biennial Report Requirements

2.1   Generally

Minnesota Statutes § 216B.2425 requires any utility that owns or operates electric transmission lines in Minnesota to submit a transmission projects report to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission by November 1 of each odd numbered year.  The statute identifies a number of items that are to be included in the report, primarily the identification and analysis of present and reasonably foreseeable future inadequacies in the transmission system. 

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) has adopted rules that govern the content of the transmission projects report and establish procedures for reviewing the report.  Those rules are codified in Minnesota Rules chapter 7848. Over the years, in response to experiences with the rule requirements, the PUC has modified the application of these rules in a number of ways, including methods of soliciting public input and reporting on transmission inadequacies. The utilities have followed the applicable procedures and reporting requirements for each report. 

In addition to the statute and the rules, the Public Utilities Commission has over each reporting cycle established specific requirements that utilities must address in the report.  For example, in response to PUC direction, the 2009 Biennial Report contained a discussion of each reporting utility’s transformer capability and the 2007 Biennial Report identified the miles of transmission line owned by each utility.  The PUC has also established specific requirements for the 2011 Report, and these are discussed in the next section below.

2.2   Specific Reporting Requirements for 2011

The Minnesota Transmission Owners (MTOs) submitted the 2009 Biennial Report on November 1, 2009.  The Public Utilities Commission afforded interested persons an opportunity to submit comments regarding the completeness of the Biennial Report. After considering all comments that were filed, on May 28, 2010, the Commission issued its Order Accepting Reports, Granting Variance, and Setting Future Filing Requirements.  PUC Docket No. E-999/M-09-602

One provision of the Commission’s May 28, 2010, Order directs the reporting utilities to address efforts the utilities have undertaken to solicit input on transmission planning issues from the public and local government officials.  The PUC directed the utilities to modify the Internet site maintained by the utilities to report on transmission planning efforts at:


The utilities have reported on their efforts in this regard in Chapter 4 of this report.

Another aspect of the Commission’s Order relates to transmission planning.  The Commission directed the utilities to discuss in some detail how they conduct strategic planning and to identify those projects that the utilities believe warrant designation as priority projects.  The utilities have addressed this aspect of the Commission’s Order in Chapter 3. The Commission specifically asked for discussion of the system considerations that affect the timing of the Corridor Upgrade Project.  This discussion is found in Chapter 8. 

One continuing obligation that has been required of the utilities since 2007 is to report on their status with regard to compliance with Minnesota Renewable Energy Standards.  In this report, as in the 2007 and 2009 reports, the utilities have provided a Gap Analysis showing their upcoming needs for renewable energy to meet RES milestones.  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.  This Gap Analysis is found in Chapter 8. 

One significant change approved by the Public Utilities Commission for the 2011 Biennial Report is the manner in which the utilities report on the transmission inadequacies that have been identified. In past reports, all the information required for a particular transmission inadequacy was contained in the Biennial Report. This year, however, utilities that are members of the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) will simply make reference to where in the annual report prepared by MISO the information about a particular inadequacy can be found. That annual report is called the MISO Transmission Expansion Planning (MTEP) Report. The Commission determined that it was unnecessary to repeat in this report the information that already is in the MTEP Report.

All transmission owning members of MISO are obligated under the Transmission Owners Agreement (TOA) they signed with MISO to participate in the MISO transmission planning process. These planning obligations are detailed in the MISO Business Practices Manual BPM-20 – Transmission Planning, and they require similar information about planned projects that is required in this Biennial Report. Any information required in this report that is not required in the MTEP Report is now being added by the utilities to their project descriptions in the MTEP Report. MISO has also agreed to add an additional data field to their projects-reporting spreadsheet beginning with the MTEP12 Report to show the unique “Tracking Number” from the biennial reporting process for each of the MTO Minnesota projects. 

For the 2011 Biennial Report, a cross reference table is provided to show where each Tracking Number can be found in a MTEP report for projects identified by MISO utilities.

A further explanation of the MTEP planning process and where in the annual reports information about a particular transmission inadequacy can be found is provided in Chapter 6. For those utilities that are not part of MISO, full information about those utilities’ transmission inadequacies continues to be found in this document. 

2.3   Reporting Utilities

Minnesota Statutes § 216B.2425 applies to those utilities that own or operate electric transmission lines in Minnesota.  The PUC has defined the term “high voltage transmission line” in its rules governing the Biennial Report to be any line with a capacity of 200 kilovolts or more and any line with a capacity of 100 kilovolts or more and that is either longer than ten miles or that crosses a state line.  Minn. Rules part 7848.0100, subp. 5. Each of the entities that is filing this report owns and operates a transmission line that meets the PUC definition. Information about the utility and transmission lines owned by each utility is provided in Chapter 7 of this Report.  In addition, a contact person for each utility is included in Chapter 7.

The statute allows the entities owning and operating transmission lines to file this report jointly.  The Minnesota Transmission Owners (MTO) have elected each filing year to submit a joint report and do so again with this report.  The utilities jointly filing this report are:

American Transmission Company, LLC
Dairyland Power Cooperative
East River Electric Power Cooperative
Great River Energy
Hutchinson Utilities Commission
ITC Midwest LLC
L&O Power Cooperative
Marshall Municipal Utilities
Minnesota Power
Minnkota Power Cooperative
Missouri River Energy Services
Northern States Power Company d/b/a Xcel Energy
Otter Tail Power Company
Rochester Public Utilities
Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency
Willmar Municipal Utilities

Of the above utilities, East River Electric Power Cooperative, Hutchinson Utilities Commission, L&O Power Cooperative, Marshall Municipal Utilities, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Rochester Public Utilities and Willmar Municipal Utilities are not members of MISO; all the others are. 

2.4   History of Biennial Reports

The Minnesota Legislature created the biennial reporting requirement in 2001 when it adopted Minnesota Statutes § 216B.2425.  The 2011 Biennial Report is the sixth such report filed by the MTO. All of the Biennial Reports are available on the webpage maintained by the utilities at:


The Biennial Reports can also be found on the PUC edockets webpage using the Docket Number from the table below. Visit:


Biennial Report

PUC Docket Number

PUC Order






May 28, 2010



May 30, 2008



May 31, 2006



June 24, 2004



August 29, 2002

2.5   Certification Requests

Minnesota Statutes § 216B.2425, subd. 2, provides that a utility may elect to seek certification of a particular project identified in the Biennial Report. According to subdivision 3, if the Commission certifies the project, a separate Certificate of Need (CON) under section 216B.243 is not required.

On May 31, 2011, the MTO advised the Commission that there would be no certification requests included with the 2011 Biennial Report.

2.6   Renewable Energy Standards

The 2007 Biennial Report included an entirely separate report called the Renewable Energy Standards Report, which was required by the Legislature as part of the 2007 Renewable Energy Act to be submitted to the Commission by November 1, 2007. This requirement was a one-time obligation and the 2009 Biennial Report did not include a separate RES Report. However, the 2009 Biennial Report did include a Gap Analysis and a discussion of various studies that were underway related to transmission needs related to renewable energy. 

The Public Utilities Commission has directed the MTO to continue to address in the Biennial Report transmission issues relating to meeting the RES milestones.  Thus, the 2011 Biennial Report also contains a Gap Analysis and a discussion of ongoing transmission studies that affect the utilities’ abilities to obtain necessary amounts of renewable energy. This analysis and discussion are found in Chapter 8.