MISO has chosen LS Power’s Republic Transmission to build the first competitive project emerging from the RTO’s long-range transmission plan (LRTP).
In a selection report published Thursday, MISO said Republic’s $77 million proposal to construct the Hiple 345-kV line crossing the Indiana-Michigan border boasted a “well-supported project implementation cost estimate, a superior revenue requirement commitment and a well-reasoned routing strategy.”
The project is the first competitively bid project to come from MISO’s inaugural, $10 billion long-range transmission plan portfolio. The RTO originally estimated the project would cost about $254 million based on a 55-mile route, which Republic said it will reduce to 23 miles.
The project entails a new double-circuit 345-kV line that will connect Northern Indiana Public Service Co.’s Hiple substation in LaGrange County, Ind., to Michigan Electric Transmission Co.’s (METC) future Duck Lake substation in Michigan.
MISO said it’s still uncertain where the Hiple line will connect with METC’s line on the state line and that its request for proposal required all proposed routes to cross the border “within 10 miles east or west of a point identified by METC as a possible point of interconnection.”
Only the Indiana portion of the transmission line was eligible for MISO’s competitive transmission process. However, Indiana this month expanded its state right of first refusal law to include multistate projects identified by RTOs in addition to projects necessary for reliability. (See New Law Expands Indiana ROFR Law for Transmission Buildout.)
MISO said Republic was careful to avoid environmentally protected areas in its proposed routing to the Michigan point of interconnection.
“Republic Transmission’s proposal reflects an efficient project cost and design,” Jeremiah Doner, MISO’s director of cost allocation and competitive transmission, said in a press release. “This includes a superior 40-year cost containment commitment and a well-reasoned project implementation strategy.”
In a press release, LS Power President Paul Thessen thanked MISO “for conducting a thorough competitive process to achieve cost efficient transmission solutions, which is estimated to provide consumers with more than 30% savings as compared to MISO’s initial estimate.”
The grid operator said it received six other proposals from two developers. Cost estimates for those proposals ranged from $97 million to $125 million and used either a 25- or 30-mile route. MISO does not reveal the identity of developers who do not win contracts.
The RTO gave Republic’s proposal an overall score of 93 out of 100; the other proposals ranked from 81 to 64. MISO opened the RFP last September and developers had until Jan. 11 to submit applications.
Republic said it will use a concrete or steel monopole design and pledged to complete the project two years ahead of MISO’s envisioned June 1, 2030, in-service date. MISO noted that, unlike the other two hopefuls, Republic is already cleared to operate as a public utility in Indiana and doesn’t have to seek approval from the state’s Utility Regulatory Commission to begin construction.
Other Project Decisions Loom
The Hiple RFP is the first of five RFPs stemming from MISO’s $10 billion, 18-project LRTP package of 345-kV lines approved in July.
MISO has two other RFP application windows open. Proposals are due May 19 for the $161 million Fairport-Denny project, crossing the Iowa-Missouri border. The RTO released another LRTP RFP in March, which seeks bids on the $556 million Denny to Zachary to Thomas Hill 345-kV project, part of which will link up with the Fairport-Denny project. (See MISO Begins LRTP’s 2nd RFP Process.)
MISO has said it will release two other RFPs in July. It plans to open bidding for the $12 million Deadend to Tremval 345-kV project in Wisconsin on July 11, followed by a July 24 opening of the bid window for a $23 million, 345-kV line segment from the Iowa-Illinois border to the Ipava substation in Illinois. The LRTP portfolio marks the first time MISO is simultaneously managing multiple competitive bid processes.
Only about 10% of the first LRTP portfolio is open to competitive bidding because of state ROFR laws and the upgrade nature of some of the projects. (See MISO Board Approves $10B in Long-range Tx Projects.) However, the Iowa Supreme Court in March temporarily invalidated the state’s ROFR law, throwing $2.64 billion worth of LRTP work across five Iowa projects assigned to incumbent developers into uncertainty. (See Iowa Regulators Ponder MISO Tx Projects After ROFR Ruling.)
Iowa staff are still working through the possible implications for transmission construction. The state’s Utilities Board replaced two of its three-member board on May 1. During a May 11 Organization of MISO States meeting, Iowa Board Member Joshua Byrnes told other MISO regulators that he was working feverishly to bring the new members up to speed on issues.
This isn’t the first time Republic has been awarded a MISO transmission project. The company and partner Big Rivers Electric completed the $65 million, 31-mile Duff-Coleman 345-kV transmission project in Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky ahead of schedule in 2020 after their bid was selected by MISO planners in 2016. Republic’s original $49.8 million proposal beat out 10 other developers’ bids. (See LS Power Unit Wins MISO’s First Competitive Project.) MISO originally placed a $59 million planning-level estimate on the work and estimates the project will provide $1 billion in benefits to its central region over the next two decades.