From an news release issued by Excel Energy:

MINNEAPOLIS – Phase One of a comprehensive study released today by a coalition of energy leaders, identifies future transmission needs in the Upper Midwest to support renewable energy development and to transport that energy to population and electricity load centers. Xcel Energy is co-sponsoring the study with Electric Transmission America – a joint venture between subsidiaries of American Electric Power and MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, American Transmission Company, Exelon Corp., NorthWestern Energy and MidAmerican Energy Company.

The Strategic Midwest Area Transmission Study (SMARTransmission) sponsors retained Quanta Technology LLC to evaluate extra-high voltage transmission alternatives for new transmission development in the Upper Midwest. In phase one, Quanta evaluated eight transmission alternatives designed to support the integration of significant new wind generation within the study area, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. The plans would accommodate the integration of up to 56.8 gigawatts of wind generation. This translates into enough energy to power over 15 million households. If it is determined that less wind energy is needed, transmission recommendations would be adjusted accordingly.

The study’s Phase One results recommend three alternatives for further study based on a rigorous reliability assessment and stakeholder input. One of the alternatives is primarily 765-kilovolt extra-high voltage transmission, another includes 765 kilovolt combined with limited use of high-voltage direct current transmission lines, while the third constitutes a combination of both 345-kilovolt and 765-kilovolt transmission lines. The three alternatives will be evaluated further during the second phase of the study, scheduled for completion during the third quarter of 2010. The Phase One report can be downloaded at