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Gov. Rick Snyder requests MISO to study benefits of better electrical connections between Michigan's two peninsulas and Canada

Study can identify opportunities to lower costs and increase reliability 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

LANSING, Mich. – Governor Rick Snyder today asked the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), the regional transmission operator for most of the state, to study the near and long-term benefits of electric transmission and generation expansion in MISO’s northern footprint to determine if there is an opportunity to lower costs while increasing reliability in the future. 

“Since Michigan has some of the highest prices for transmission in the MISO footprint, it makes sense to ask whether, in the long term, we can all spend less while increasing reliability by strengthening our ties to each other and our neighbors,” Snyder said.

“Michigan is in the middle of a transformation of our energy infrastructure in both peninsulas, and Ontario’s generation has changed a great deal, including the area just across the Soo,” added Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, who joined in the request. “This study will help us identify whether, due to all these changes, there are new opportunities for infrastructure that will make Michigan more adaptable.”

Specifically, in the request, the Governor is asking for MISO to study connecting Michigan’s eastern Upper Peninsula (part of MISO’s Zone 2) up to Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, and also strengthening the connection between the Upper Peninsula (U.P.) and the northern Lower Peninsula (Zone 7) at the Straits of Mackinac down to the northernmost part of the existing 345 kV transmission line near Gaylord.

In addition, the study asks MISO to assume a large natural gas plant is constructed in Otsego or Kalkaska County, which have availability of natural gas pipelines with available capacity, large electrical transmission, and natural gas storage in a small geographical area. 

The request was also supported by State Senator Tom Casperson, who has advocated for such a study for several years, as well as other private stakeholders. 

“We owe it to the citizens of the U.P. to explore every avenue to lower costs now and in the future,” said Casperson.  “I am glad to join with the Governor’s administration to make this request, so we can find out if Michigan ratepayers have an option to save money and improve reliability at the same time.”

Governor Snyder called for such a study in his 2012 Energy and the Environment Special Message.  Although MISO completed a northern area study studying stronger ties between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, no ties to Canada were studied and there have been significant infrastructure changes since that time and more are expected in the future. 

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