Capital Dynamics on Tuesday announced an agreement with independent power producer (IPP) Tenaska to develop 2,000 MW of solar across the Midcontinent System Operator (MISO) market.
Capital Dynamics' Clean Energy Infrastructure (CEI) business and the IPP plan to develop 14 solar projects across Michigan, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. Solar makes up less than 1% of the generation capacity in all the states slated for the projects except Minnesota, whose generation mix is 1.55% solar.
- MISO's generation portfolio is currently 52.2% coal, 36.2% natural gas and nuclear, 10.2% wind and less than 1% other resources.
The companies' agreement, officially signed Monday, would add a significant chunk of solar-powered generation to MISO's currently narrow solar market.
Although the MISO market stretches down to Louisiana, the agreement will focus on the six midwestern states.
The region is within "a market poised for growth," Benoit Allehaut, director of Capital Dynamics' Clean Energy Infrastructure team said in a statement. Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin are three states whose gubernatorial seats flipped blue this election, which clean energy advocates say could have significant impacts on the future of the states' renewable energy markets.
Wisconsin has 56.21 MW of solar installed in the state, making up just 0.6% of its generation capacity, but support for renewables is growing from legislators and interest groups, Tyler Huebner, executive director of Renew Wisconsin told Utility Dive earlier this month.
The state has suffered from high electricity costs and relies heavily on imported coal, making the low cost of solar and other renewables a good opportunity for Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers to take advantage of. The state is operating under a split government and cheap, clean energy has drawn a lot of bipartisan support in recent years said Huebner.
Michigan relies heavily on natural gas, coal and nuclear, with solar making up just 0.15% of the state's electric power capacity. However, the election of Democratic Gov.-elect Gretchen Whitmer was a victory for Michigan's clean energy future, according to energy watchers. Her opponent, Bill Schudy "can best be described as the Scott Pruitt of the Midwest," J.R. Tolbert, vice president of state policy at Advanced Energy Economy told Utility Dive earlier this month.
Illinois Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker is pushing to double the state's renewable energy mandate to 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2050, creating significant opportunity for renewables developers in that state as well. Illinois already had plans to develop 2,800 MW of solar over the next few years and recently approved 48 solar projects.
Minnesota is well known for its successful community solar programming and hit 460 MW of operating community solar this month. The state was also graded an "A" on its shared renewables program by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council in October, the highest ranking of all states scored.
Indiana and Missouri rank 23rd and 29th respectively in solar capacity nationwide. But Missouri has also been noted by SEIA for its quick market growth, moving up 10 spots in the rankings since last year.
CEI owns 3.1 GW of solar projects across the U.S. and Europe and Tenaska operates 280 MW of solar in California, along with over 10,000 MW of natural gas and wind projects across the country. The companies are not yet releasing how much capacity will be sited in each state or the timeframe for rolling out the projects.