This Web-based document was archived by the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library.

Saint Paul – Governor Tim Pawlenty announced today that Minnesota and four other Midwest states have created a transmission planning effort that will promote regional electric transmission investment and cost sharing.

The Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative will identify wind generation resources, transmission projects and infrastructure needed to support those resources in a cost-effective manner. Over the next year, participants will determine a reasonable allocation for the costs of the region and will lead to the development of a concrete plan or tariff proposal for the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO).

Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota join Minnesota in coordinating efforts among state regulatory agencies, transmission companies, utilities, independent generation owners and other key stakeholders. The states will work closely with MISO which is currently conducting a variety of transmission planning studies with results expected in 2009.

“The time is right for planning and coordination between these states in the Midwest ISO,” Governor Pawlenty said. “As states in the region increase their use of wind energy, planning on how best to locate wind farms and other renewable sources and build the necessary transmission infrastructure to support them is crucial.”

Minnesota is a national leader on renewable energy initiatives. In 2007, Governor Pawlenty proposed and signed into law the nation’s leading renewable energy standard, requiring 25 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2025. Minnesota currently ranks fourth in the nation for installed wind energy generation. Minnesota has also been successful in attracting renewable energy businesses, such as the Suzlon blade manufacturing plant in Pipestone.

The governors from the participating states praised the new effort as a necessary step in facilitating cooperative transmission planning at the regional level.

“This effort complements and meshes very well with ongoing initiatives at MISO and the Midwest Governors Association,” said Governor Michael Rounds of South Dakota, who is also the current chair of the Midwest Governor’s Association.

“Coordinated transmission planning centered on renewable energy is critical to providing a diverse supply of affordable, clean energy to our region,” said Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle. “The coordinated transmission planning we are announcing today matches the recommendations made in a report by Wisconsin’s Global Warming Task Force.”

“I'm committed to Iowa's continued production of renewable energy,” said Iowa Governor Chet Culver. “This collaboration on electric transmission development continues and strengthens our goal of making Iowa the renewable energy capital of the United States. A critical issue is cost sharing, and I am confident that this group of like-minded states can work through that difficult issue.”

“The positive economic implications of sound energy planning are obvious,” said North Dakota Governor John Hoeven. “North Dakota and the four other states involved in this initiative stand to gain from transmission investments that are timely, well-designed, and regionally coordinated.”

The Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative will hold its first meeting in October. Following the meeting, a project timeline, scope statement, work plan, and identification of appropriate stakeholders will be available.