Transmission lines provide a pathway for renewable energy


By Lucas Nelsen, former staff member

The Midwest has experienced a renewable energy boom. Renewables have provided the region with clean, low-cost energy and created new economic development opportunities for communities. The expansion of renewable energy has presented a challenge—the electric grid was not designed to connect wind and solar generation to customers. Taking full advantage of the region’s clean energy resources requires a concerted effort to improve existing electric transmission infrastructure.

Examples of the effort to update the Midwest’s electric grid are the proposed Multi-Value Projects (MVP). These projects would provide connections for new renewable energy projects while also improving reliability and reducing congestion on the grid. One of these MVPs is the proposed Cardinal-Hickory Creek transmission line that would run from near Dubuque, Iowa, to outside Madison, Wisconsin.

This project has the potential to enable enough new wind and solar to power more than 1.3 million homes, or about 4,000 megawatts of clean energy. Developers have also outlined routing options that primarily follow existing lines or run along highways, avoiding additional impacts to the environment or wildlife.

Cardinal-Hickory Creek and other proposed transmission projects play an important role in updating the electric grid. As wind and solar continue to grow, it is essential that the transmission system keeps pace. Improving the electric grid will allow rural communities across the Midwest to benefit from the development of local renewable energy while accessing clean power from the entire region.