Transmission infrastructure is one of the cornerstones of our electric power system. Transmission lines are like interstate highways; they collect large volumes of electricity generated from power plants and transport that energy to the millions of customers where it’s consumed.
In the Upper Midwest, generating stations powered by wind and solar are coming online, producing safe, clean electricity for our homes, farms, and businesses.
Expanding transmission infrastructure in the Upper Midwest is desperately needed to support the growth of renewable energy in Wisconsin.
As more wind and solar facilities come online, an upgraded and improved transmission system will ensure that electricity generated from renewable resources in the region can reach consumers safely, efficiently, and reliably. This increased capacity will help:
- Reduce Wisconsin’s dependence on fossil fuels
- Lead to improved outcomes for public health
- Keep our water and air clean
- Support Wisconsin’s economy
Wisconsin is under-utilizing current renewable energy resources. Due to transmission bottlenecks, eastern Iowa and southwest Wisconsin wind farms cannot operate at full capacity. More renewable energy projects will come online over the next decade, and this problem will only worsen, reducing the efficacy of existing renewable energy sources and slowing the development of new renewable energy resources.
Solar and wind farms need a dependable pathway to deliver renewable electricity to Wisconsin energy consumers. Clean energy transmission lines connect our energy consumers with clean energy to power our future.
WHAT INVESTMENTS ARE NEEDED?
Upgrading our utility grid requires significant investments. However, the long-term economic benefits, such as reduced energy costs, improved grid reliability, and avoided health costs associated with a decarbonized economy, can help alleviate these concerns.
While there are upfront costs, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), our regional grid manager, found the benefits of transmission upgrades are 2.2 to 3.4 times greater than their cost. According to their study, recent transmission investments will provide $12 to $53 billion in net benefits over the next 20 to 40 years, or between $250 and $1,000 for each person MISO currently serves.
According to a recent study, reaching net zero by 2050 will require aggressive action at virtually every level, from rapidly deploying clean energy resources like wind and solar to developing new technologies and expanding transmission. State and local governments need robust transmission infrastructure to meet climate and carbon-reduction goals. These investments will spur economic growth and create hundreds of family-supporting jobs for Wisconsin workers.
Transmission projects can take 3-10 years to plan and complete, so we need swift action to build the infrastructure required to move clean electricity from where it is generated to where it is consumed. As transportation and buildings are increasingly electrified, reliable transmission infrastructure will become necessary. Our clean energy future cannot wait!
The expansion of transmission infrastructure aligns with RENEW’s and the State of Wisconsin’s goals to advance clean energy. Increased transmission infrastructure for renewable energy can potentially have a broader public impact as Wisconsin transitions to a net zero economy. Renewable energy transmission infrastructure is critical to our transition towards a sustainable, decarbonized future with benefits for all of Wisconsin.