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From Dream to Reality: Power Transmission Projects Part 1

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The concept of power transmission is to move large quantities of renewable energy from one hub to another safely and efficiently without losing a significant portion of it in the process. For years, this idea of building out the required infrastructure to carry out power transmission has been scoffed at by the industry, but recent developments indicate that this sentiment is changing. In this two-part article, the Sarasota construction attorneys at Cotney Construction Law will discuss power transmission projects, which are on the verge of becoming the next conversation piece in the construction industry.

Two Major Investors are Keen on Power Transmission

Siemens AG and Copenhagen Infrastructure Projects (CIP), two massive energy investors, are backing a power transmission project valued in excess of two billion dollars that aims to carry renewable energy sourced from wind turbines between the Midwest and East Coast. It’s the type of forward-thinking project that will alter our approach to energy distribution, and has already garnered the praise of government organizations like the United States Fish & Wildlife Service, which considers it “precisely the kind [of project] the U.S. needs to build out.”

SOO Green Renewable Rail

The project mentioned above, called the “SOO Green Renewable Rail” (after the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Soo line), plans to utilize an underground high-voltage current transmission line in conjunction with existing track to move renewable energy from Iowa to Illinois. More importantly, the project will have right-of-way for nearly 85 percent of the 349-mile rail to ensure that power transmission runs nearly unimpeded for the vast majority of its transit. The project is estimated to wrap up in 2024, ushering in a new age of renewable energy by bringing power from high-efficiency Midwest generation sites to populous cities in the east.

Overcoming Obstacles

The SOO Green project takes power from wind generators and transfers it into the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO). MISO is then linked with the largest transmission system in the country, PJM Interconnection to provide power to eastern states like Virginia and New Jersey. As mentioned previously, the outlook for such a project was relatively dismal until recently. It was imperative that developers overcome a few significant hurdles before this project could be considered a reality, namely:

  • Eliminating eminent domain to obtain right-of-way for quasi-seamless transmission.
  • Developing high voltage 525-kV XLPE cable that could be safely and effectively utilized underground.
  • Procuring Siemens Energy’s high capacity HVDC Plus voltage source converter technology, which is “pushing the boundaries of transmission and physics,” according to HVDC business developer Orestes Macchione.

When all is said and done, the SOO Green project will be more powerful than any other high-voltage line clocking in at 2,100 megawatts. However, this is only the beginning. The SOO Green project provides an important blueprint for future power transmission projects and can be replicated to greatly empower our energy infrastructure. Remember, whether you’re looking to procure contracts with private or public entities, a Sarasota construction attorney can assist you with everything from contract review and negotiation to bid proposals and protests.

To learn more about power transmission projects, read part two.

If you would like to speak with one of our Sarasota construction lawyers, please contact us today.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.