Investment in transmission is investment in reliability

States that rely on renewable energy sources are seeing more investments than ever before, boosting local and statewide economies. With a rich history as an energy leader, North Dakota can look to clean power to help strengthen our state’s energy industry and increase the reliability of the grid.

Recent extreme weather events have taught us important lessons. Renewable energy plays an important part in the reliability of the grid, performing very well in the 2021 extreme weather event that knocked out power to Texas. North Dakota wind energy fared even better than fossil fuel resources. More recently Babcock Ranch in Florida, which has its own self-contained solar and battery microgrid, experienced no power outage even though hurricane Ian passed overhead.

Another lesson from the Texas event was the importance of a well-connected grid system. Just as Texas is vulnerable due to its isolation from the rest of the national grid system, our current grid system is vulnerable due to its antiquated configuration. It is currently set up for massive thermal-powered generation plants. The next iteration of the grid will be more distributed requiring a different configuration of transmission lines.

Renewable sources currently generate more than 36 percent of North Dakota’s electricity.

North Dakota’s Renewable Energy Program, which was established by the legislature in 2007, has helped advance renewable energy across the state. As more corporations demand clean energy, our state must connect our vast renewable energy resources to the grid, which will increase our competitiveness on the national stage.

Investing in reliable, clean energy means investing in North Dakota’s future. Renewable energy projects supply more than power — they also provide funding and jobs to communities. Solar and wind energy projects have paid more than $20.7 million in local, state, and property taxes. These investments help fund our roads, bridges, and schools without raising taxes and provide economic relief to North Dakota families. North Dakota is home to four wind energy manufacturing facilities, which support even more jobs and strengthen our state’s manufacturing industry.

As chair of CLEAN (Citizens Local Energy Action Network), I am proud to be part of our state’s growing renewable energy landscape. The ticket to ongoing economic and energy progress is improvements in our transmission. The most important near-term way to increase reliability is to get renewable energy and storage projects built and connected to the grid.

Transmission and homegrown, clean, affordable renewable energy will create a cost-effective and energy-efficient future for our state’s residents. With updates to our transmission infrastructure, we can build out the energy grid and increase reliability during increased demand and extreme weather events — and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) transmission line from

Jamestown to Ellendale is a prime example of these benefits. The line would simplify the delivery of power statewide, lowering consumer costs. Built-out transmission infrastructure benefits our energy system, reliability, and affordability.

We must continue generating renewable energy sources and modernizing the grid through reliable transmission to ensure a strong economy in North Dakota. Renewable energy is a financially sound and reliable solution that invests back into the communities it powers. North Dakotans have already seen millions of dollars in local investments and job creation across the state, and we must fight to continue this momentum.


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