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Saturday, June 08, 2013

Ind. Decisions - "7th Circuit ruling affirms $5.2 billion plan for Midwest power lines"

Thomas Content of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has the story about yesterday's 7th Circuit opinion. The long story begins:

Utility customer groups and utilities in the state of Michigan were delivered a setback Friday when an appeals court ruled on a case involving who should pay for $5.2 billion of new power lines proposed to criss-cross the Midwest.

A federal appeals court ruling in Chicago sided for the most part with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Indiana-based operator and planner of the Midwest power grid.

At issue is a cost-sharing plan that was approved by FERC to pay for an array of new power lines. The Midwest transmission operator in 2011 authorized construction of 17 big power lines, including some in Wisconsin, at a cost of $5.2 billion.

Many of the power lines are being proposed to facilitate the flow of renewable energy from the windiest regions of the Great Plains to population centers in the eastern part of the Midwest.

The cost-sharing plan calls for utility customers to pay for those projects based on the percentage of that state’s entire share of the Midwest power grid. For Wisconsin, which represents roughly 15% of the electricity used in the Midwest, that means a price tag of $800 million for new power lines – whether those projects are built here or elsewhere in the Midwest.

Here is the 26-page opinion, ILLINOIS COMMERCE COMMISSION, et al. v. FEDERAL ENERGY REGULATORY COMMISSION, written by Judge Posner. A quote from the illustrated opinion:
“The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not . . . . Achieving [a 20% renewable energy quota] would require moving large amounts of power over long distances, from the windy, lightly populated plains in the middle of the country to the coasts where many people live. . . The grid’s limitations are putting a damper on such projects already.” Matthew L. Wald, “Wind Energy Bumps into Power Grid’s Limits,” New York Times, Aug. 27, 2008, p. A1. MISO aims to overcome these limitations.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on June 8, 2013 10:21 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions