Transmission expansion costs are spread unevenly, driving a wedge between utilities and regions.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
Back in June, the Bismarck Tribune ran an interview with North Dakota Public Service Commissioner Tony Clark that showed just how difficult it is to build national consensus for renewable energy.
The interview dealt with the massive transmission expansion now underway to accommodate wind project development in the Dakotas, Iowa, and Minnesota, and the ensuing threats from Otter Tail Power and Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) to cancel their memberships as part of MISO (the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator) unless MISO somehow can modify its scheme for funding the enormously expensive wind-driven grid upgrades so Otter Tail, MDU and their ratepayers won’t have to pay a huge share of the cost, as is the case now under the current MISO tariff. (See, “N.D. Regulators Seek Rule Change on Wind Power Costs,” by Dale Wetzel, AP writer, Bismarck Tribune, June 4, 2009, State-and-Regional News Section.)
“What I would tell wind developers is, ‘You’d better solve this,’” Clark was quoted.
“If you don’t,” he added, “the political support, which in North Dakota has been almost unanimous for wind, will evaporate.”