WI Groups File Complaint at FERC Over CapX2020 Line & Grid Instability

Here is today’s press release from WI organizations Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) and Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL).

Citizens Energy Task Force (CETF) and Save Our Unique Lands (SOUL) filed a complaint today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) contending utilities knew of grid instability and reliability issues if the Minnesota-Wisconsin section of the CapX2020 high-voltage power line is added to the electric grid. The utilities’ own studies and conclusions form the basis for the complaint.

The complaint names CapX2020 utilities Xcel Energy, Dairyland Power Cooperative, Great River Energy and Wisconsin Public Power Incorporated (WPPI) along with the Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO) and Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO). The first public evidence of utility and transmission planner knowledge of the issue is found in April 3, 2009 Xcel Energy press release stating, “Without a line to the east of Minnesota, the transmission system will reach a “tipping point” where reliability is compromised….”

According to attorney Carol Overland, who is filing the complaint, “Approval of a project known to cause grid instability violates reliability standards laid out by the National Energy Regulatory Commission (NERC) and adopted by FERC.” Overland explains, “You can fix the stability risks by extending the 345 kV grid from La Crosse to Madison, but CapX2020 was approved independently, as a stand-alone transmission project, and on its own, it puts the system at risk.”

CapX2020 is a radial line, which means it carries power in only one direction. This one-way flow brings a tremendous flow of electricity into the area without a corresponding outlet. According to Overland, “This creates an inherently unstable situation and reduces the flexibility of the system to recover from voltage changes, which in turn can cause system collapse.”

Readers of The Power Line understand exactly what Ms. Overland it talking about.  Transmitting large amounts of AC current over long distances is inherently unstable.  Building bigger lines means increased grid instability without expensive upgrades and equipment throughout the system.  Even CapX2020’s owners acknowledged the problems, yet they failed to take the steps (or go to the additional expense) of fixing the problems their line was creating.

Citizens all across the US are introducing common sense into the discussion about transmission.  Instead of economic and political manipulation, we are talking science and innovation.

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