Minnesota Declares Sept. 14 “Clean Grid Day”

MINNEAPOLIS – Today, as members of Minnesota’s grid operator Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) meet in Minneapolis to discuss the future of the Midwestern grid, Gov. Tim Walz declared September 14 “Clean Grid Day.” At the beginning of 2023, Minnesota leaders passed 100% clean energy legislation, committing to cut emissions, create jobs, improve air quality and public health, and build a carbon-free grid for future generations. 

Minnesota’s clean grid efforts are well underway, with 96 percent of all electric grid interconnection requests in Minnesota in 2022 coming from wind, solar, storage, or hybrid projects—enough to power nearly 7 million homes. However, more action and coordination are needed.  

Clean power cannot be delivered without expanded transmission infrastructure, and Minnesota depends on MISO, the regional grid operator, to advance its planning efforts for the grid. In 2022, MISO approved a historic investment known as Tranche 1 that will deliver over $37 billion in benefits across the Midwest – the first of a planned four-stage investment. Given the time it takes to develop transmission lines, the benefits of those initial projects will not be delivered until 2030, and the transmission capacity waiting in Tranches 2, 3, and 4 is badly needed. 

This week a group of 39 stakeholders including environmental organizations, renewable energy developers, energy trade associations, racial and economic justice groups, commercial and industrial customers, and energy trade associations, also delivered a letter to the MISO Board of Directors, calling on them to double down on planning a transmission buildout to keep pace with our state’s clean energy goals. 

Today, Minnesota leaders and advocates offered the following statements: 

“Minnesota’s regional transmission operator, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), is leading long-range transmission planning efforts that will bring significant benefits to the region, including supporting wind and solar resources and creating thousands of new jobs. Minnesota is committed to working with MISO to address grid infrastructure and support a reliable, clean grid,” said Governor Tim Walz. 

“We cannot afford to wait until later this decade to make needed investments to help Minnesota achieve our 100% carbon-free electricity standard by 2040. Falling behind on building out a clean and reliable grid would risk undermining our progress and leaving Minnesotans stuck with a fossil-fueled power system that is more polluting, more expensive, and less reliable,” said Representative Jamie Long. 

“The clean energy transition is underway, and we need more high-capacity transmission lines to ensure it succeeds. Minnesota and MISO are both working hard to deliver cleaner, lower-cost power and a more reliable, interconnected Midwest grid. Long-range transmission planning must stay a top priority for MISO to support Minnesota's success in achieving its carbon-free by 2040 goal,” said Natalie McIntire, senior advocate at NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). 

"For years, CGA has been sounding a clarion call about the need for more transmission. Last year, MISO approved 18 long-range transmission lines that will enable 53 gigawatts of capacity for clean energy sources, battery storage, and hybrid projects throughout the Midwest. These lines will deliver $37 billion in economic benefits and more than 300,000 jobs from transmission work and clean energy construction. But there is no time to waste getting these lines sited, permitted, and constructed. There is absolutely no transmission available for new interconnection requests, and this reality will halt the clean energy transition we are all looking to achieve if we don't act now," said Clean Grid Alliance Executive Director Beth Soholt. 

"100 percent carbon-free electricity is now the law of the land in Minnesota, and other states in the MISO region are setting similar goals. Our regional grid plays a critical role in ensuring the affordability and reliability of our electric system, and will be critical to enable clean energy requirements to be met. Midwest states like Minnesota leading on clean energy are looking forward to continued collaboration with MISO to ensure that our transmission system and wholesale power markets evolve to facilitate this transition at the pace and scale required,” said Isabel Ricker, Director, Clean Electricity at Fresh Energy. 

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Established in 1970, NRDC uses science, policy, law, and people power to confront the climate crisis, protect public health, and safeguard nature. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, Beijing and Delhi (an office of NRDC India Pvt. Ltd). Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC. 

Clean Grid Alliance is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in St. Paul, Minn., whose mission is to advance renewable energy in the Midwest. Launched in 2001, CGA has been an active stakeholder in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) process at the state and regional levels and a leading organization working on transforming state energy policy. CGA's membership includes industry representatives working in wind, solar and storage as well as environmental nonprofit organizations, public interest groups, clean energy advocates, farm groups, and businesses providing goods and services to the renewable energy industry who come together to reduce carbon and deliver a renewable energy future. Learn more at www.cleangridalliance.org and @CGA_Midwest.

For nearly three decades, Fresh Energy has been committed to shaping and driving bold and equitable policy solutions around clean energy and climate in the Midwest. Working purely in the public interest, Fresh Energy’s team of scientists, economists, policy analysts, and educators develop and advance solutions that secure a clean energy future where all can thrive. Learn more about Fresh Energy at www.fresh-energy.org.  

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