MISO announces $2.7 billion expansion, includes $170 million in Arkansas upgrades

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 700 views 

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) board of directors on Thursday approved a $2.7 billion expansion plan across the grid operator’s 15-state footprint, including $170 million in investments that will go toward upgrading Arkansas’ aging electricity infrastructure.

MISO’s Transmission Expansion Plan 2015, or MTEP15, will consist of 345 projects that will ensure reliability and position the region for future growth through an 18-month planning process that involves meetings with MISO member companies, regulators and neighboring systems, officials said. (Link here for the full report.)

The extensive coordination results in a plan that provides billions of dollars in economic benefit across the MISO footprint, said John Bear, president and CEO of MISO. Under the planning process, MISO developed its own list of recommended projects, but also looks at other possible jobs submitted by stakeholders that are required to meet local needs.

“These investments in the region will continue to position MISO for future challenges and changes in the industry,” Bear said in statement. “As our region grapples with the Clean Power Plan and a shifting generation portfolio, MISO’s transmission planning efforts are even more important.  Ensuring a robust transmission system will allow us to meet these challenges in a way that protects reliability.”

In Arkansas, MISO members will invest in 11 different Entergy Arkansas Inc. and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.-led projects (AECC) with estimated costs ranging from $254,000 to $57.4. million. The largest project is in northeast Arkansas and will consist of tapping the existing Independence to Dell 500 kilovolt (kV) power line near the Hergett township 161 kV station and building a new Jonesboro EHV (extra high voltage) station, including an autotransformer. The Jonesboro EHV project is expected to be placed in service by summer of 2018.

The MISO footprint in the central U.S.
The MISO footprint in the central U.S.

Entergy Arkansas is also heading a project in northeast Arkansas that will consist of rebuilding the existing Jim Hill to Datto 115 kV line and converting the line and all stations to 161 kV. That project in Clay County has an estimated price tag of $44 million and is expected to be placed into service by end of 2018. The other MTEP projects include upgrades and expansion of the state’s aging electric infrastructure that will add hundreds of miles of new power lines, substations and transformers.

Also, for the first time, the MISO plan includes a competitive transmission project – the Duff-Coleman 345 kilovolt (kV) line in Southern Indiana. Duff-Coleman is a $67 million, market efficiency project that will be eligible for competitive bidding under rules established by FERC Order 1000. MISO will begin the bidding process in January 2016.

Since 2003, $11 billion of MTEP projects have been constructed across the MISO footprint, enhancing system reliability, reducing congestion and enabling public policy requirements such as renewable portfolio standards.

Earlier this summer, Carmel, Ind.-based MISO christened its new $22 million state-of-the art command center in west Little Rock that oversees the grid operator’s four-state South region that encompasses all or part of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy Arkansas completed its controversial integration into the MISO system in late 2013.

In other MISO news, the nonprofit regional transmission organization elected two new members, Phyllis Currie and Mark Johnson, to its board of directors. Currie is the former general manager of Pasadena Water and Power (PWP), which serves the city of Pasadena, Calif. and portions of Los Angeles County. Johnson was vice president of transmission operations for Pacific Gas and Electric Company in San Francisco.