Transmission Proposals Aim To Break Iowa Wind Bottleneck

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of Midwest Energy News. Author credit goes to Dan Haugen.

With several ambitious transmission projects being proposed or planned in Iowa, the state’s utility board is taking stock of the major projects.

Wind development has slowed in Iowa lately, in part due to transmission bottlenecks. In response, utilities and developers are working on hundreds of miles of new high-voltage power lines aimed at moving wind power to customers in and outside the state.

Transmission line

image via Shutterstock

The Iowa Utilities Board has been collecting information on the projects more than 50 miles long and 345 kV. They include the following:

Lakefield-Hazelton and Sheldon-Webster Lines

These lines in north-central Iowa and southwest Minnesota are among 17 so-called “multi-value projects,” or MVPs, approved by the region’s electricity grid operator, MISO, in December. MVPs are lines in which the benefits, and the costs, are shared more broadly than traditional transmission projects. The 214-mile project will be built, owned and operated by MidAmerican Energy and ITC Midwest.

They’re expected to alleviate congestion at 19 points on the grid and provide a better east-west connection for sending Iowa and Minnesota wind power to Illinois and Wisconsin. The lines would be built in the vicinity of several proposed wind farms, some of which are held up due to lack of transmission capacity.

The projects still need approval from Iowa and Minnesota regulators. ITC expected to begin routing studies early next year.

Update: The original version of this story referred to the Lakefield-Hazelton and Sheldon-Webster by their former names, which were recently updated to reflect the latest route plans.

Adair-Ottumwa Line

This 71-mile transmission project is “a key reinforcement” for an area experiencing congestion between Iowa and Missouri, according to MidAmerican Energy, which will again split this project with ITC Midwest. The line is also among the 17 MVP projects approved by MISO late last year.

It would run from Ottumwa, in southeastern Iowa, to Adair, Missouri. From there, the project would link up with another string of power lines planned to run across central Illinois to the Indiana border. In addition to relieving congestion, the project would enable new wind development along the corridor as well.

The line has yet to gain approval from Iowa or Missouri regulators.

Midwest Energy News, launched in 2010, is a nonprofit news site dedicated to keeping stakeholders, policymakers, and citizens informed of the important changes taking place as the Midwest shifts from fossil fuels to a clean energy system.

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