As renewable power crowds the electricity grid with growing force, transmission operators are upping the stakes for supportive infrastructure.

On Thursday, Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO) announced its annual expansion plan, which included a $5 billion addition to its traditional $1.5 billion annual expansion plan. The additional money will allow the regional transmission operator (RTO) to create an improved “electric grid superhighway” that includes 215 construction projects.

“The investment in these infrastructure projects will improve the deliverability of energy, both economically and reliably, over the next 10 years and beyond,” MISO wrote in a statement. MISO claims the investment will create $15.5 to $49.2 billion in value to its consumers over the next 20-40 years.

In a phone conversation with the press, MISO VP of Transmission Asset Management Clair Moeller said that electricity prices are likely going to rise in the coming years by about $4-$5, particularly because of impending EPA Clean Air rules. He said natural gas will likely being to replace coal, but will become more expensive as demand for gas rises.

The investment in transmission is MISO’s insurance policy against that likely “inflation,” Moeller said.

We need to ensure that there is a sufficient transmission grid so generators can compete with each other.

He said MISO is going its best to spread both costs and benefits evenly across its coverage area.

While the new projects will allow greater amounts of wind resources to be incorporated into the grid, it will not include smart grid technology, Moeller said. MISO will continue its policy of recalculating electricity prices every five minutes but hopes that a more robust grid will allow those prices to be as low as possible. For a more in-depth read of wind energy and electricity pricing in a competitive market, read: The Answer May Not Be Blowing In The Wind.