Electricity is an integral part of daily life, yet we rarely consider what it takes to keep the electrons flowing to our homes, businesses, and our beloved gadgets. In much the same way that our nation’s highway system helps move grain from where it is grown and harvested to markets in cities and towns, transmission does the same thing for wind energy.
America’s heartland has some of the best wind resources in the nation. Wind energy provides consumers with a low-cost, reliable, and homegrown source of clean energy. The American Wind Energy Association recently announced that nearly 70 gigawatts of wind energy is now supplying electricity to an estimated 18 million American homes annually. And, a near-record of more than 13,250 megawatts of wind capacity is currently under construction — most of which is occurring in the central “wind corridor” of the country. For more of us to benefit from this clean, low-cost wind energy, however, transmission needs to be developed.
Nationwide, transmission has not seen a meaningful improvement in more than 30 years. In 2011, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the largest regional transmission organization and independent system operator in North America, approved 17 Multi-Value Transmission Projects (MVP). To be deemed an MVP project, transmission lines must have been determined by MISO to be necessary to maintain reliability, provide economic savings to ratepayers, or to help states meet policy objectives such as Renewable Energy Standards.
The Mark Twain Transmission Project is a Multi-Value transmission Project. This line is very much needed to bring clean wind energy to Missouri. Because we have a regional transmission grid operator that distributes our energy, getting as much clean, low-cost wind into the energy marketplace as possible will only help reduce energy costs. For Missouri, the Department of Energy’s Wind Vision report shows electricity bill savings of $2.11 billion cumulatively through 2050.
The line is intended to relieve congestion in existing transmission lines during peak use times during the day and when wind energy output is greatest. Benefit-to-cost analyses have shown that the MVP lines through Missouri yield a benefit to ratepayers two to two and one-half times greater than the cost. In fact, the Wind Vision report states that significant economic and environmental benefits are expected by 2030 even in states that will not see significant wind project development of their own. The project also will help the state of Missouri meet renewable energy standards that voters in the state strongly supported in November of 2008.
I urge residents of Missouri and the Missouri Public Service Commission to support the development of the Mark Twain transmission project for its ability to bring low-cost, clean wind energy into the electric grid so that more people can benefit from lower rates, reduced carbon pollution, and significant water savings.
Sean R. Brady
Regional Policy Manager, Wind on the Wires