CapX2020 takes next step in understanding future transmission needs

The 10 utilities known as CapX2020 are continuing their efforts in understanding the transmission needs of the future as the fuel sources used to generate electricity continue to move toward more renewable energy and less carbon-based fuel.

The CapX2020 organization was founded in 2004 to upgrade and expand the electric grid in the Upper Midwest to ensure affordable, reliable electric service and create new pathways for renewable energy. Great River Energy was a co-founder of the organization and

CapX2020 issued a letter to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator requesting the organization study the grid and identify a plan to meet the year 2030 goals of the operator’s utilities, its customers and policymakers in the Upper Midwest.

continues to play a leadership role.

The utilities released the CapX2050 Transmission Vision Report in March, which identifies the elements necessary for continued safe, reliable and affordable electric grid operation as the electric industry transitions to a future with more non-dispatchable generation resources such as wind and solar. It also outlines needed long-term policies and procedures.

“This report was intended to be a critical first step toward helping policymakers and stakeholders better understand the implications of a

future that is more reliant on non-dispatchable generation,” said Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel.

CapX2020 took an important next step on May 29 by issuing a letter to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) requesting the organization study the grid and identify a plan to meet the year 2030 goals of the MISO utilities, its customers and policymakers in the Upper Midwest. MISO is the regional transmission organization that oversees the electric grid in the region. It studies the grid regularly to ensure reliable, efficient operation.

“Given expectations that new transmission will be needed to accommodate the rapid transition to non-dispatchable generation, along with the time needed to plan, permit and construct transmission upgrades, we asked they identify the necessary enhancements beginning in their 2021 plan,” said Matt Ellis, CapX2020 co-executive director.

The letter urged MISO to immediately begin the analysis and identify solutions which are “least regrets” and “scalable to fit with longer-term plans of the future grid.” MISO formally accepted the request.

Ellis said given the regional impacts of the generation fleet transformation and the fact that transmission planning cannot occur in isolation, the CapX2020 utilities requested to partner with MISO on the study instead of CapX2020 conducting the study itself.

The CapX2020 utilities are Central Municipal Power 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. For more, visit capx2020.com.