Great River Energy guides ‘Finding True North Conference’

Great River Energy provided a cooperative voice at the Grid North Partners “Finding Truth North Conference” held June 16. Great River Energy Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel served as emcee and Operations and Transmission Services Director Dick Pursley participated on one of the event’s panels.

Grid North Partners is an evolution of CapX2020, an organization Great River Energy co-founded nearly two decades ago. This 10-utility organization successfully built more than 800 miles of high-voltage transmission lines to expand and upgrade the electric grid in the Upper Midwest in the 2010s. Great River Energy led the development of the industry conference on behalf of Grid North Partners.

More than 300 people attended the virtual event and heard regulators, grid operators, environment advocates, property owners and utilities discuss what it will take to ensure the transmission system in the Upper Midwest is prepared to deliver tomorrow’s energy 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

“We were able to bring in a diverse group with different perspectives,” Patel said. “As we look to ensure a resilient, reliable grid, it will take all of us working together with regional and local officials as the energy and transmission system evolves. We’ll continue to collaborate on identifying and developing projects that deliver new renewable and carbon-free electricity to our members while maintaining reliable and affordable electric service.”

Three panels and a keynote speaker addressed issues ranging from how to plan for a 100% clean energy future, policy needs for the region’s next transmission build-out, how the future system will be operated and the need for grid resiliency.

The conference’s theme of “Finding True North” featured wide-ranging discussions with several common threads, including noting the importance of partnership in new transmission development. Speakers also addressed the need for reliability and affordability as many Upper Midwest energy providers retire older, legacy power plants and invest in more dispersed renewable generation.

“The CapX2020 organization was formed in 2004 to ensure we built new transmission infrastructure in the Upper Midwest in partnership with the companies that collectively serve the region,” said Matthew Ellis, Great River Energy’s regional transmission development and policy program manager and Grid North Partners co-executive director. “This conference was a great way to reconnect with energy leaders throughout the Midwest to identify the needs, challenges and issues we’ll face in the coming decade.”

The conference recording is available at www.gridnorthpartners.com/conference.