MISO Approves Robust, Much-Needed Transmission Expansions

Statement by James Gignac, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Jul 25, 2022

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WASHINGTON—Today, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) Board of Directors voted to approve the first portfolio of projects in its Long Range Transmission Planning (LRTP) process. This first portfolio, known as tranche 1, totals 18 projects and nearly $10.5 billion in new transmission system investments that are expected to provide MISO ratepayers between $37 and $69 billion in benefits.

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has long pushed for more robust transmission in the MISO region, championing its financial, environmental, and reliability benefits.

Below is a statement by James Gignac, senior Midwest energy analyst at UCS.

“Today is a significant step toward building the modern, resilient, and reliable electric transmission system necessary to decarbonize the energy sector. MISO’s approval of the tranche 1 projects will prevent 400 million metric tons of carbon emissions between 2030 and 2050 and allow for updates that the power grid has needed for a long time. These investments are a crucial and cost-effective way to enable MISO states, utilities, and customers to achieve their clean energy goals.

“We also applaud MISO for taking such a well-rounded and deliberate approach to the process. This vote comes after two years of stakeholder engagement and a thorough and robust analysis of the benefits and costs from this important investment in new clean energy infrastructure. MISO’s own analysis clearly shows significant economic and environmental gains resulting from this decision—which other advocates estimate will result in 333,000 jobs from the transmission work and construction of new renewables such as wind and solar. It’s great to see a grid operator formally recognize the broad range of benefits that transmission brings.

“Today’s vote is exciting progress, and only the first of several portfolios of investment that we’ll need to keep up with the drive to decarbonize and meet the challenges of climate change.”

For more information, see the recent UCS blog post: “Midwest Transmission System Investments Will Be a Game Changer for a Clean Energy Future.”