Clean Energy Transmission
The Midwest is blessed with a great opportunity to power ourselves with clean, renewable wind energy. To maximize the usage of wind energy, however, we need to make sure new wind farms can get their renewable electricity to the grid. Clean energy transmission lines are needed to better connect the Midwest’s energy consumers with the wind energy that can increasingly power our future.
The Midwest grid operator has established a plan to build out 17 “multi-value portfolio” transmission lines that will enable the Midwest to increase the wind energy production, while saving money and increasing reliability. The total investment of approximately $5 billion in transmission lines will unlock approximately $50 billion in wind investment in the region, including in Wisconsin.
Of these seventeen transmission lines, two were identified to be built in Wisconsin:
- Cardinal-Hickory Creek, which will run from northeast Iowa to Dane County
- Badger-Coulee, which will run from La Crosse County to Dane County
There are many considerations to account for when looking at investing in and siting electricity infrastructure. A transformation in our energy sector is underway in the Midwest, and the usage of coal is decreasing everywhere except Wisconsin, where we remain twice as reliant on coal as the average state. Moreover, our over-investment in building and cleaning up coal have made our electric rates nearly double in the past 20 years, while rates in neighboring Iowa are up just 40% as they have invested instead in wind power.
At RENEW Wisconsin, we support the development of in-state renewable energy and the reduction of our energy use as critically important energy priorities. However, if Wisconsin is going to transition away from coal, having access to regional wind power is an important tool in the toolbox of “all-of-the-above clean energy” expansion.
The documents below provide further information on these two projects. There are Fact Sheets that detail each project and their benefits and costs. On the right are FAQ sheets addressing the most common concerns about these two transmission lines.
What are the benefits?
Clean Energy Transmission can provide a host of benefits to businesses, local governments, and electricity customers throughout Wisconsin. Some of these include:
- Helps transport wind energy from throughout the region, bolstering the Midwest’s ability to power our future with renewable energy.
- Brings clean, low-cost electricity to Wisconsin residents: Badger state residents have the highest electricity rates in the Midwest, due in part to our limited use of wind power (2% of Wisconsin's total electric generation comes from wind, as opposed to about 30% in Iowa and 16% in Minnesota).
- Reforms our current grid system to bring in electricity from multiple wind generators all across the region, as opposed to accommodating the service of only a few large energy providers.
- Protects our health, air, and water from the harmful effects that follow the use of fossil fuel electricity.
We encourage you to watch the video below, called “Conservation: A Core Wisconsin Value,” featuring Buddy Huffaker of the Aldo Leopold Foundation and RENEW’s Tyler Huebner. Buddy talks about how the transition to clean energy aligns with the values of protecting Wisconsin’s special habitats and places.