Electric Transmission America has released the Phase Two report for a study of the transmission needed in the Upper Midwest to support renewable energy development and transport that energy to population and electricity load centers. ETA sponsored the study along with American Transmission Company, Exelon Corp., NorthWestern Energy, Xcel Energy and MidAmerican Energy Company.

The Strategic Midwest Area Renewable Transmission Study (SMARTransmission Study) sponsors retained Quanta Technology LLC to evaluate extra-high voltage transmission alternatives for new transmission development in the Upper Midwest. Quanta evaluated transmission alternatives designed to support the integration of 56.8 gigawatts (GW) of nameplate wind generation within the study area, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Nebraska, Missouri, Michigan and Ohio. This translates into enough energy to power more than 15 million households.

Phase Two of the study determined that the conceptual transmission overlays identified in the first phase of the study would have similar economic and environmental impacts. The alternatives include a conceptual overlay that totals nearly 8,000 miles and uses primarily 765-kV extra-high voltage (EHV) transmission lines, one that totals over 7,600 miles and includes both 765-kV and high-voltage, direct-current (HVDC) lines, and one totaling more than 8,600 miles that combines over 4,400 miles of 345-kV and 3,900 miles of 765-kV transmission lines.

"Determining the level of transmission needed to achieve the renewable energy goals of the Midwest ISO states and their neighbors was the focus of this landmark study. The SMARTransmission study evaluated a variety of transmission options and presents three conceptual transmission expansion plans that would be capable of reliably transporting nearly 57 gigawatts of wind-generated power to load centers in the eastern part of the study area," said Lisa Barton, ETA president.

The SMARTransmission study's goal was to develop a 20-year transmission plan that ensures reliable electricity transport, provides an efficient transmission system to integrate new generation and foster efficient markets, minimizes environmental impacts, and supports state and national energy policies. The study was designed to incorporate a high level of stakeholder input, including representatives from investor-owned utilities, state utility commissions, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, municipalities and wind developers.

"Throughout the study process, we've met with representatives from the regional transmission organizations, including Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, PJM Interconnection, the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool and the Southwest Power Pool, to ensure they understood the intent and focus of the study. We will share the final report with them so that the SMARTransmission study results can be considered in their long-term transmission planning processes," Barton said.

ETA is a joint venture between subsidiaries of AEP and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company to build and own electric transmission assets. The joint venture is a 50-50 partnership organized to identify and invest in high-voltage transmission projects (345 kV or higher) located in North America outside of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). The two companies also have an existing joint venture agreement to build transmission in ERCOT. ETA's current joint venture projects include Prairie Wind Transmission in Kansas and Tallgrass Transmission in Oklahoma.