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Studies and Reports > 2021 Biennial Report > Transmission Studies


Transmission Projects Report 2021
Chapter 3: Transmission Studies


3.0 Transmission Studies

3.1  Introduction

The Commission requires that the utilities include in each Biennial Report a “list of studies that have been completed, are in progress, or are planned that are relevant to each of the inadequacies identified” in the Report. Minn. Rule part 7848.1300, item F. Since the 2011 Biennial Report, the utilities have broken this chapter up into several subsections, each addressing different types of studies. The same arrangement for reporting the studies is continued in this 2021 Report.

Section 3.2 describes a number of studies that have been completed that either address expansion of the transmission network to provide for generation expansion, in particular renewable energy, or address local inadequacy issues (noted with a Tracking Number). Section 3.3 describes ongoing regional studies that focus on expansion of the bulk electric system to address broad regional reliability issues and support expansion of renewable energy in the upper Midwest.  Section 3.4 focuses on ongoing load serving studies that are attempting to resolve local inadequacy issues.  

The MPUC rules state that the utilities must include in the Biennial Report a copy of “the most recent regional load and capability report of the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool” (MAPP). Minn. Rule part 7848.1300, item B. As the utilities reported in the 2011 Report, however, the Midcontinent Independent Transmission Operator (MISO) has taken over most of the planning that occurs in this part of the country. MAPP has not prepared a Load & Capability Report since May 2009. MAPP, in fact, discontinued its existence in October 2015. 

3.2  Completed Studies

The following studies were completed since the last Biennial Report was submitted in October 2019. Previously completed studies can be found in previous Biennial Reports and are not repeated here. Where specific transmission projects have been identified, a Tracking Number is provided. The Tracking Number identifies the year the project was first considered for inclusion in a Biennial Report and the zone where the project is located.

Study Title

 Year Completed

 Utility Lead

 Description

Great River Energy Long Range Plan (LRP)

2019

GRE

A study of the Great River Energy load serving transmission through 2029.

Benson Area Study

2020

GRE

A study of the Benson area.

CapX2050 Transmission Vision Study

2020

Grid North Partners

In March 2020, the Grid North Partners utilities, an evolution of CapX2020, published the CapX2050 Transmission Vision Report to educate and inform Upper Midwest policymakers and other stakeholders on the implications of a future that is more reliant on wind and solar resources. This holistic long-term study is critical to the eventual development of a comprehensive plan that will ensure the continued reliable delivery of low-cost electricity in a cost-effective manner. The full report is available at: https://gridnorthpartners.com

Grid North Partners, an evolution of CapX2020, is a joint initiative of 10 transmission-owning utilities consisting of: Central Municipal Power Agency/Services, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Great River Energy, Minnesota Power, Missouri River Energy Services, Otter Tail Power Company, Rochester Public Utilities, Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency, WPPI Energy and Xcel Energy.

Northern Minnesota Voltage Stability Study

2020

MP

Evaluate voltage stability concerns identified in Boswell Attachment Y2 Study to understand causes, stability thresholds, and related issues

Duluth Area Transmission Study

2021

MP

Continued analysis of the Duluth-area issues identified in previous studies to identify preferred long-term solutions;
Duluth 115 kV Loop (2019-NE-N12),
Duluth Area 230 kV (2007-NE-N1).

3.3  Regional Studies

While every study that is undertaken adds to the knowledge of the transmission engineers and helps to determine what transmission will be required to address long-term reliability and to transport renewable energy from various parts of the state to the customers, some studies are intentionally designed to take a broader look at overall transmission needs. Regional studies analyze the limitation of the regional transmission system and develop transmission alternatives that support multiple generation interconnect requests, regional load growth, and the elimination of transmission constraints that adversely affect utilities’ ability to deliver energy to the market in a cost effective manner. 

MISO started a Regional Transmission Overlay Study (RTOS) in 2016, but due to limited benefits identified in the study MISO has put the study effort on hold.

3.3.1  MISO Transmission Expansion Plans

MISO engages in annual regional transmission planning and documents the results of its planning activities in the MTEP. The MTEP process is explained in detail in chapter 6 since the latest MTEP reports are being relied on to provide information about the transmission inadequacies identified in this Report. Earlier MTEP Reports were summarized in past Biennial Reports. For convenience, the following brief description of the latest MTEP reports is presented here. The MISO Expansion Plans are available on the MISO webpage. Visit http://www.misoenergy.org and click on “Planning.”

MTEP20 Report
The MTEP20 report identified projects required to maintain reliability for the ten year period through the year 2029 and provides a preliminary evaluation of projects that may be required for economic benefit up to twenty years in the future.

According to the MTEP20 Executive Summary, the MISO staff is recommending approval of approximately $2.5 billion in new transmission infrastructure investment. Of the $2.5 billion, $1 billion is new Baseline Reliability Projects, $606 million is Generation Interconnection Projects, and the remainder falls into the Other category.

MTEP21 DRAFT Report
The MTEP21 DRAFT report identified projects required to maintain reliability for the ten year period through the year 2030 and provides a preliminary evaluation of projects that may be required for economic benefit up to twenty years in the future.

3.4  Load Serving Studies

Load serving studies focus on addressing load serving needs in a particular area or community. Since many of the inadequacies in Chapter 6 are load serving situations, many of these studies relate to specific Tracking Numbers. 

Study Title

Anticipated completion

Utility lead for Study

Description

South Washington Load Serving Study

2019

NSP

Develop a comprehensive plan to serve the growing load around the City of Woodbury in eastern Twin Cities Area. 

Wendell Interconnection and Nashua Elevator Load Serving Study

2019

OTP

Load growth in the Western Minnesota area caused a need for system upgrades. Various transmission and non-transmission alternatives were investigated to determine a best-fit project for the new load.

Worthington Area Study

2021

GRE
ITCM
MRES

GRE, ITCM & MRES studied the transmission system in the Worthington area to serve a potential load addition as well as mitigating existing reliability and operational concerns.  See chapter 6, Southwest Zone, Worthington Area Projects.

Winton Area Study

2021

MP

Evaluate the need for capacitor banks and long-term reliability upgrades on the 115/46 kV system serving Tower, Ely, Winton, and Babbitt.

Great River Energy Large Load Studies

N/A

GRE

Great River Energy has had multiple request across its member system’s service areas for potential large load installations. These loads have ranged from 2.5 MW to 500 MW. These requests have non-disclosure agreements and therefore are not communicated until the requesting party makes a decision to allow communication to other parties.  Smaller load requests on occasion can be supplied by the existing transmission system, however in most cases new transmission will be required to serve these loads. Upon approval with the requesting party, Great River Energy will work with neighboring transmission owners in assessing the system for impacts for certain desired locations. Great River Energy will work with the State, if needed, upon notification of approval of a selected location.

Barnesville Area

2022

GRE
MRES OTP

GRE, MRES, and OTP are studying the transmission system in the Barnesville area to address local load serving concerns, and potential reliability benefits for the surrounding load pocket looking out towards the end of the planning horizon. The study is expected to be completed early 2022.

Pilot Knob Area Study

2022

GRE

Evaluate long range options for the Pilot Knob area. There is a future need to rebuild the Pilot Knob substation due to age and condition. This study will determine the feasibility of converting the area to 115 kV.

Verndale Area Study

2022

MP

Evaluate load-serving needs in the Verndale area to identify long-term transmission and distribution solutions, particularly as they may impact the scope of the Verndale Substation Modernization Project (2021-NE-N4).

Onigum Area Study

2024

GRE

Study the Onigum area for a possible 115 kV conversion.