Energy Lunch Recap: SOO Green Line

Written by Max Walker

The Winneshiek Energy District held an energy lunch for a presentation on the SOO Green High Voltage Direct Current Link, or SOO Green Line. The SOO Green Line is an electrical transmission line that will travel from Mason City, Iowa to Plano, Illinois. This transmission line will connect two of the primary renewable energy markets of the Midwest. The broad goal of the project is to increase the number of households and businesses in the US that can rely on renewable energy. The entity conducting the SOO Green Line project is called the Direct Connect Development Company. This is the company Neil and Steve were representing in our energy lunch, as they enlightened us on this important piece of the puzzle that is the US’s energy transition.

The SOO Green Line is an electrical transmission line, just like the transmission lines that you can see strung up on telephone poles along many highways; but the SOO Green Line specifically is an important project within the US energy transition. The SOO Green Line is high voltage, which means it can carry a significant amount of electricity. The trait that sets the SOO Green line apart is that it will be installed underground. This trait allows the SOO Green Line to carry more electricity than an overhead line because the higher the voltage is of a transmission line, the heavier it is, and there is no weight limit for a transmission line that is on the ground. The SOO Green Line also eases some public opposition by being underground, as the environmental impact and aesthetic displeasure are limited. The SOO Green Line will connect Midcontinent Independent System Operator with Pennsylvania Jersey Maryland Independent System Operator. These are two of the largest regional electric markets in the US, so by forging this connection, the SOO Green Line will transfer some of the renewable electricity generated in the Midwest to consumers in the Eastern US, where renewables are more sparse.

Finally, the SOO Green Line was planned carefully and several partnerships were made to give the project a better chance of being successful, while having a minimal impact. The Direct Connect Company formed one of their partnerships with Canadian Pacific Railway to allow them to build most of the line within the right-of-way of one of the railroads. This step takes advantage of an existing corridor, limiting the extent to which private property is affected, and mitigating the environmental impact of the project. Direct Connect also considered their environmental impact in their planning to ensure they would qualify for the multiple permits that are concerning the environment, which are required for this type of infrastructure. Direct Connect also ensured the line would be paid for in a fair way within their planning. The typical transmission line is paid for by the ratepayers of the state in which the line exists. In contrast, the SOO Green Line is a merchant project, in which the people who use the line pay for the line. So the majority of the SOO Green Line will run through Iowa, but it will not be paid for by Iowa ratepayers.

The SOO Green Line was developed in an innovative, conscientious way to promote our energy transition, while leaving a limited impact on the environment and the surrounding communities.

Watch the talk here:

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