The Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (Midwest ISO) Board of Directors yesterday approved a far-reaching, long-term transmission expansion plan that includes recommendations addressing the need for transmission infrastructure additions and improvements for the Midwest region.

The 2005 Midwest ISO Transmission Expansion Plan (MTEP) is the product of an in-depth examination and analysis of the entire region's transmission needs through 2009.

"The 2005 MTEP reflects one of the core functions of Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) -- coordinating long-term transmission needs on a region- wide basis," said Midwest ISO President and CEO James P. Torgerson.

"This report provides a detailed roadmap for continued investment in the transmission infrastructure that serves consumers throughout much of the Midwest," Torgerson added. "Fully implemented, the recommendations contained in this report will ensure reliable service to meet the growing demand for electricity in the Midwest ISO region."

The 2005 MTEP identifies 615 planned or proposed transmission facility additions or enhancements, representing an investment of US$2.91 billion through 2009. In addition, the report describes two other large-scale "exploratory" plans the Midwest ISO and its stakeholders will continue to evaluate for their potential regional benefits. These two expansion concepts are referred to as the Northwest Exploratory Project and the Iowa - Southern Minnesota Exploratory Project.

Midwest ISO's transmission owners are expected to make the investments necessary to implement the "planned projects" recommended in the plan, unless alternative funding is provided for under the Midwest ISO tariff.

When developing the plan, Midwest ISO staff took into consideration projected increases in load, requests for generator interconnections, transmission service requests, member-provided information, and results of studies conducted by the Midwest ISO.

The final 2005 MTEP, as approved by the Midwest ISO Board of Directors Thursday, can be found at www.midwestiso.org/plan_inter/expansion.shtml.

The 2005 MTEP report is the second regional expansion plan produced by the Midwest ISO since the start of operations in February 2001. The first regional plan, approved in June 2003, identified 407 facility additions, with an estimated investment of $1.9 billion. This second MTEP builds on that original plan, and identifies a total of 615 facility additions at an estimated investment of $2.91 billion. The 615 planned and proposed additions of the 2005 MTEP address the reliability issues identified in the original MTEP, as well as new needs identified in the current regional plan.

In the report, projects are classified as either "planned" or "proposed." Projects that are designated as "planned" are recommended by the Midwest ISO to be completed by the service dates identified. Other projects, listed as "proposed," are tentative solutions to identified needs, and require additional planning before they are endorsed by transmission owners or the Midwest ISO as the preferred solution.

The 2005 MTEP provides a comprehensive, top-down reliability evaluation of the expected performance of the region's transmission system through 2009. This evaluation, referred to as the Baseline Reliability Study, provides an independent assessment of the reliability of the Midwest ISO's transmission system.

The results of the Baseline Reliability Study indicate that the Midwest ISO system is expected to be able to perform within standards for normal system conditions, for events involving loss of a single transmission facility, and for events involving loss of more than one facility. This performance will require that the "Planned" projects go forward, and that the "Proposed" projects or suitable alternatives are in place.

Among the dozen regional expansion concepts reviewed in the 2003 MTEP, two were selected by the Midwest ISO and stakeholders for further detailed evaluation in the current MTEP effort because of their potential for customer benefits and because of significant stakeholder interest. As described above, these two expansion concepts are referred to as the Northwest Exploratory Project and the Iowa - Southern Minnesota Exploratory Project. Both projects would provide enhanced access by load centers in the Midwest ISO to abundant but remote coal and wind resources.