An official of MidAmerican Energy of Des Moines said the utility is in the early stages of putting together a proposal for a 765-kilovolt electricity transmission line that would carry wind energy from Iowa and the Upper Midwest east to Chicago and beyond.
"We don't have anything to announce formally, but we are working to interest partners in a venture for a new line," said Dean Crist, vice president for regulatory affairs for MidAmerican Energy.
Meanwhile, state regulatory officials from Iowa, the Dakotas, Minnesota and Wisconsin have declared that the Upper Midwest will be glad to host the big multistate line. But they think utility customers in the eastern United States, where the electricity would go, should pay the bulk of the costs.The cost of the project is estimated at between $10 billion and $12 billion.
MidAmerican's would be the second major wind transmission line proposal on the table.
Michigan-based ITC Holdings, which owns and operates the electric transmission system serving Alliant Energy customers in Iowa, has already won preliminary but nonexclusive approval from federal regulators for a 3,000-mile line that would run from the Dakotas through Iowa and Minnesota to Illinois and points east.
The ITC and the expected MidAmerican transmission line proposals are bidding to be something unprecedented in U.S. utility history: A multistate transmission line designed to carry electricity from one region of the country to another.
"This can be likened to the building of the interstate highway system," said Crist.......MidAmerican's interest in the transmission line is hardly a surprise. The utility already has more than 1,300 megawatts of wind turbine generating capacity. It also has owner Warren Buffett's ample checkbook at its disposal.
MidAmerican has formed a joint venture with AEP Energy of Columbus, Ohio, to develop wind transmission ventures in Oklahoma and Kansas.In September, MidAmerican will end its longstanding aloofness from regional transmission grid organizations when it joins MISO, which would ease any future questions about transmission line interconnections....MORE
Compare/contrast with Eric Pooley's Bloomberg Op-Ed ""Why Warren Buffett Is Wrong About Cap and Trade: Eric Pooley" (BRK.A)" and "Transmission: "A Costly and Unnecessary New Electricity Grid" And: "Debate on Clean Energy Leads to Regional Divide "