The ambitious SOO Green transmission line project, aiming to connect the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and PJM Interconnection regions, recently achieved a significant milestone with its approval by Iowa regulators. On September 13, 2023, the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) granted a franchise to SOO Green HVDC Link ProjectCo, the project’s developer, for constructing and operating the Iowa segment of this underground 525-kV high-voltage direct current (HVDC) line, extending approximately 350 miles from Mason City, Iowa, to Yorkville, Illinois.
The SOO Green project not only promises to deliver wind-generated power from Iowa to the PJM market but also plays a pivotal role in enhancing grid reliability. It is set to provide an additional 2,100 MW of transmission capacity between MISO and PJM, a vital step in ensuring a stable and secure energy supply. The IUB emphasized the significance of this project, stating that it would boost reliability by improving the capability to send and receive power, particularly during instances of generation shortfalls in the MISO region.
This approval by the Iowa Utilities Board represents a crucial step forward for the SOO Green project, which has been gaining approvals from various local, state, and federal regulatory bodies. David Pacyna, CEO of SOO Green HVDC Link ProjectCo, noted that both MISO and PJM are currently reviewing the project as part of their interconnection review processes. According to Pacyna, based on PJM’s schedule, the SOO Green project is expected to secure an interconnection service agreement by the third quarter of 2025. Efforts are underway to align the MISO interconnection study timeline with PJM’s process to ensure concurrent agreements.
While the commercial operations date of the SOO Green project will be influenced by factors such as supply chain constraints and commercial offtake contracts, the developer aims to have the transmission line operational by around mid-2029.
The SOO Green project, which received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in 2020 to negotiate rates for capacity on the line, will primarily traverse private rights-of-way owned by Canadian Pacific Kansas City, a railroad company.
Owned by Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners, energyRe, Siemens Energy, Jingoli Power, and PPL Corp, the SOO Green project developer reflects a collaborative effort with a shared vision of enhancing America’s energy infrastructure and advancing clean energy goals.
In parallel with the SOO Green project’s progress, federal lawmakers are also taking steps to promote interregional transmission capacity. Sen. John Hickenlooper and Rep. Scott Peters introduced the BIG WIRES Act, aiming to require FERC transmission planning regions to export at least 30% of their peak load to neighboring areas by 2035. This legislation, if passed, could have far-reaching implications for the future of interregional transmission and grid reliability.
The SOO Green project and the BIG WIRES Act underscore the increasing importance of modernizing and expanding our transmission infrastructure to meet the evolving energy needs of the nation and transition towards a cleaner and more resilient grid. As we look ahead, collaboration between industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, and lawmakers will play a crucial role in shaping the future of America’s energy landscape.