MISO, a regional transmission organization, approved its Transmission Expansion Plan 2011 (MTEP11), a comprehensive, long-term regional plan for the electric grid that will bring more than $2 billion in annual benefits for decades to come for energy consumers throughout the Midwest. The plan was developed over an 18-month period to ensure the reliable and low-cost delivery of energy now and in the future.

“The projects in MTEP11 will make low-cost electricity accessible and create thousands of jobs in the process,” said John R. Bear, president and chief executive officer of MISO.

When integrated into the existing power transmission network, the projects approved in MTEP11 will improve system reliability, connect 2,700 megawatts (MW) of queued generation and lower the cost of delivered energy while also enabling energy policy mandates. Board approval requires MISO’s transmission owners to use due diligence to construct the facilities approved in the plan.

MTEP11 recommends 215 new transmission infrastructure projects, including 16 industry-leading multivalue projects (MVPs). Together with the previously approved MVP, the 17 MVPs alone will create $15.5 to $49.2 billion in net present value economic benefits over a 20- to 40-year time frame. The MVP portfolio provides broad regional benefits commensurate with costs and also supports approved state and federal energy policy mandates in the MISO region. In total, the portfolio will deliver benefits in excess of 1.8 to 3.0 times its costs. For retail customers, that translates to $23 in benefits from lowered delivered energy costs for about $11 a year in investment—a 109 percent return.

“The portfolio of multivalue projects will not only improve regional reliability, but it also will create up to 39,800 construction and 74,000 total annual jobs and generate up to $49.2 billion in benefits from the use of lower cost generation and reductions in energy wasted through transmission losses,” Bear said. “In addition, all of MTEP11 projects are essential to helping the region manage the severe drop in planning reserve margins that is likely to occur in the next several years if pending environmental regulations proceed as planned.”

Through the use of a low-cost generation siting system developed in collaboration with MISO’s stakeholders, state regulatory officials and transmission owners, MVPs optimize portability for wind generation while minimizing distances from planned transmission to other fuel sources, assisting the region’s transition to new generation facilities. This, in turn, allows the states within the MISO footprint to meet their renewable energy goals and ensure lower cost generation is fully used in the wake of pending environmental regulations that could cause the simultaneous outage of 61,000 MW of coal-fired generation in the region.