- Wisconsin regulators last week approved construction of the $580 million, 180 mile, 345-kV Badger-Coulee high-voltage transmission line that would deliver 1,400 MW of renewables, primarily wind, into the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) system.
- The line’s opponents argued the Xcel Energy-American Transmission Co. (ATC) project is an unnecessary expense that increases utility-owned central generation but will diminish the value of distributed generation development. They said they were "appalled," but not surprised, by the decision.
- The Wisconsin Public Service Commission unanimous decision completes the ATC-Northern States Power (Wisconsin) five year pursuit of necessary approvals and clears the way for construction to start later this year. That will allow the line to be in service by 2018.
The PSC concluded the line will generate $118-$702 million for ratepayers over its estimated 40-year life. Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) argued the line’s benefits to ratepayers do not justify its costs and that a combination of energy efficiency (EE), load management, demand response (DR) and distributed generation (DG) could provide the same benefits at a much lower cost.
In 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order 1000. It was intended to identify the most cost-effective strategy to obtain reliability, congestion, and power quality for the grid but to consider “non-transmission alternatives” like EE, DR, and DG against new transmission proposals.
Advocates of alternatives believe regulators fail to accurately value six potential benefits of non-transmission alternatives and that allows for the proliferation of unneeded new transmission.
Wind on the Wires, a Midwestern wind advocacy group, rejected the CETF argument and described Badger-Coulee as “a vital link” in the MISO Multi-Value Projects (MVPs) transmission network that will deliver emissions-free, low-cost wind to reduce MISO energy market congestion and make the MISO grid more reliable.
Correction: This post originally stated that the expected in-service date for the line is 2020. That is incorrect. The expected in-service date is in 2018.