- PPL Corp. has taken an ownership position in a proposed 350-mile transmission project meant to link the Midcontinent Independent System Operator and PJM Interconnection markets, the utility and project developers announced Monday.
- Backers of the $2.5 billion privately-financed SOO Green transmission project hope to begin construction in 2023 and bring the system online three years after that. Financial details of PPL's stake were not released, but company officials said it is "small."
- The project would be primarily located along train tracks owned by Canadian Pacific railway in an attempt to avoid eminent domain issues and ease other siting difficulties. PPL officials say they want to study ways of developing transmission that "may avoid some of the traditional barriers to siting, permitting and construction."
New transmission is widely considered a key to bringing more renewables to major power markets and accelerating the energy transition, but large projects can take years to win regulatory and siting approvals. SOO Green's co-location approach aims to speed that process by undergrounding high voltage lines along existing rail corridors.
PPL's investment "will enable us to gain greater insight into an innovative approach to building large transmission projects that may avoid some of the traditional barriers to siting, permitting and construction as we work to advance the clean energy transition," utility spokesman Ryan Hill said in an email.
Along with PPL, the project is owned by Siemens Energy, Jingoli Power and investment funds managed by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners.
Hill said the company's position is "small" and "the investment is not considered material." PPL's Pennsylvania and Kentucky utilities are not involved with the SOO Green project, he said, meaning ratepayers will not foot the bill for the company's involvement. "Our investment in SOO Green is being made through a separate subsidiary," he said.
The SOO Green project aims to enable delivery of 2,100 MW of renewable energy from the upper Midwest to eastern markets. The project will use a 525 kV underground cable and Siemens' modern Voltage Sourced Converter technology.
"As PPL seeks to advance a clean energy transition, we look forward to gaining insight from SOO Green's innovative approach, and we are excited to lend our capabilities to support the project's success," PPL Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Gregory Dudkin, said in a statement.
The project has faced hurdles, however. In June, SOO Green filed a complaint with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission arguing that the PJM Interconnection's current tariffs create unnecessary barriers for merchant transmission projects.