CEDAR RAPIDS (MCT) – A new report on resolving barriers to wind energy development in the upper Midwest recommends constructing six new power transmission corridors – two of them across Iowa.
The report was issued by the Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative on Wednesday. It identifies 20 wind zones, with at least 750 megawatts of wind development potential, and sets forth principles for allocating the billions in costs to develop the transmission corridors.
The transmission corridors would be built over a number of years, the report said and would provide a way to move 15,000 megawatts of new power from wind farms to the markets where the power would be consumed. It would serve as a backbone for future wind energy developments in the region and potentially further east.
Both of the transmission corridors crossing Iowa would go east-west.
One would cross the northernmost portion of the state, while another would cross the state’s midsection.
Iowa Gov. Chet Culver endorsed the report’s findings, saying that an estimated 600 jobs would be created in construction of the transmission lines.
The jobs would be electricians, linemen, technicians, equipment operators, steel workers, engineers and concrete workers, Culver said.
“I now challenge our utilities and transmission companies to use what UMTDI has created,” Culver said in prepared remarks.
The initiative was started in 2008 by the governors of Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota to explore transmission issues associated with power transmission from ‘wind-rich’ states, the report said.
The group worked with the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) in Carmel, Ind., which oversees the regional power grid.
ITC Holdings, a Michigan-based independent transmission system operator, previously has proposed construction of the Green Power Expression.
The transmission project would include two 765-kilovolt transmission lines through Iowa, and a third along the Minnesota-Iowa border that could go through either state. It would cost $10-12 billion.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued ratemaking principles for the ITC project in April of 2009 that the company described as favorable. It allows a 12.38 percent return on equity.
The UMTDI report said the extra high voltage build-out in the corridors it has proposed would cost $3 billion, but would be built over a number of years.