The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), which operates the grid for most of Michigan, has just approved a set of transmission lines that are expected to connect new renewable energy projects to customers, allowing the construction of an expected 53,000 megawatts of new power sources that will lower costs for electric consumers, leading to net benefits of up to around $50 billion.
“It is good news that MISO is overcoming barriers that have blocked new transmission lines for years,” Citizens Utility Board (CUB) of Michigan Executive Director Amy Bandyk said. “A more connected grid benefits ratepayers by enabling lower-cost renewable energy to flow to where it is needed, improving the reliability of electric service.”
The approval advances one of the largest and most complex transmission infrastructure buildouts in years. The federal government and a number of governors, including Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have recognized that more transmission infrastructure is critical to support the growth of renewable energy needed to achieve state and federal clean energy and carbon neutrality goals. But transmission planning has been historically very difficult, as Gov. Whitmer and other Midwestern governors recognized when they came together in 2021 and urged MISO to improve its planning process.
Today’s decision indicates that progress is being made to overcome the barriers that have hindered transmission development. Throughout the nearly two-year planning process for the 18 transmission lines in nine Midwestern states that will make up the $10.3 billion project, CUB participated in stakeholder meetings as a representative of the Public Consumer Advocate Sector. Two of the 18 lines would go through Michigan. One branch will run from Indiana to a location near Duck Lake in Calhoun County, and from there another branch connects north to central Michigan.
The Citizens Utility Board of Michigan is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose members are individual residential customers of Michigan’s energy utilities. CUB of MI advocates in support of more reliable power, cost-effective investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy and against unfair rate increase requests.