Midwest Grid Operators Seek to Unlock Clean Energy Transmission on the ‘Seam’

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The U.S. Midwest has massive wind power potential, and it’s a growing target for solar power projects as well. What it lacks is the transmission capacity to carry that clean energy to market — a costly problem compounded by convoluted transmission planning rules that have held back gigawatts of wind projects over the past few years. That’s how Beth Soholt, executive director of the Clean Grid Alliance, describes the challenge for Midwest renewable energy developers, utilities and grid operators trying to expand the region’s clean energy resources. “Our fundamental problem is a lack of transmission capacity,” she said. “We need more wire.” After years of stymied growth, interstate grid operators are looking for new ways to share costs and benefits across the region’s energy stakeholders, she said. While that may be too late to allow stalled wind projects to capture expiring federal tax credits, it’s still a major opportunity to create the conditions needed to meet the country’s massive demand for carbon-free energy in the decade to come. Take this week’s creation of a joint planning initiative between the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and Southwest Power Pool (SPP), meant to identify transmission …

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