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MISO portfolio of regional grid projects grows, but hits delays

Highlights

Board review pushed back two months

Five projects now at core of first tranche

Midcontinent Independent System Operator is delaying board review of its first batch of Long-Range Transmission Planning projects by a couple months to May 2022, while outlining an expanded number of projects that could move forward at that time, MISO officials said at a Nov. 19 workshop.

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The LRTP projects are significant because they will help accommodate the influx of renewables needed to meet state and utility clean energy goals. The LRTP process has been controversial in part because stakeholders disagree about how MISO should divvy up project costs -- which could eventually hit $100 billion.

MISO had originally planned to bring the first tranche of LRTP projects to its board for approval in March, but the grid operator decided to delay that request until May or June, Aubrey Johnson, executive director of system planning and transmission at MISO, said at the workshop.

The extra time is needed because MISO first needs approval of its cost allocation methodology, and that proposal will not be filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission until the end of December, Johnson said.

Expanded portfolio

The number of projects in the first tranche is also growing, as was expected. In October, MISO completed a first pass through its potential grid projects and found three projects that could be a core part of the first round of LRTP projects. But the grid operator said that more projects could be added in or replaced.

At the Nov. 19 meeting, MISO officials said there are now five projects that are showing potential value for the system that could be included in the first tranche. The grid operator is also taking a closer look at eight of the 38 transmission solutions proposed by stakeholders as potential alternatives for the current LRTP effort, the presentation said.

MISO's is evaluating potential LRTP projects based on its future scenarios, which look at different ways the grid could evolve in the next 20 years.

Future 1 assumes most states and utilities meet their climate goals and it includes a 40% carbon reduction. Future 2 assumes states and utilities meet all their goals on time and it includes a 60% carbon reduction. Future 3 assumes states and utilities meet their goals, includes an 80% carbon reduction, assumes a 50% penetration of renewables and introduces a larger electrification scenario.

LRTP tranches

MISO plans to conduct four tranches of LRTP projects, Johnson said. The first two tranches will focus on projects in MISO Midwest, he said. The third tranche will look at projects in MISO South, and the fourth tranche will consider projects that link MISO Midwest and MISO South, he said.

In addition, the first tranche will focus primarily on Future 1, the second tranche will start to take a deeper look at Futures 2 and 3 as well, and the third and fourth tranches will consider all three futures, Jarred Miland, senior manager of transmission planning coordination at MISO, said at the workshop.