WIRES gathers the latest transmission data, reports, and news to help keep our members up to date on the latest industry trends.
Competitive Transmission: Experience To-Date Shows Order No. 1000 Solicitations Fail to Show Benefits
As the power grid continues to transition to one that is increasingly reliant on intermittent resources to meet demand for clean power, the role of transmission in delivering the output from these renewable resources has never been more critical. Over a decade ago,...
An estimated 70 percent of transmission and distribution lines are well into the second half of their 50-year life expectancy, and some lower voltage components are even over 100 years old. The report finds that reconductoring and rebuilding existing transmission...
The new "Net-Zero America" research outlines five distinct technological pathways for the United States to decarbonize its entire economy. The research is the first study to quantify and map with this degree of specificity, the infrastructure that needs to be built...
Transmission Facts & Figures
Access to Clean Energy Resources
According to estimates from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, by 2030 state-specific clean energy demand standards are expected to amount to: 600 TWh to 714 TWh. The latter is ~17% of current U.S. retail sales.
Investment in transmission is not keeping pace with renewable energy generation , which is often far from load. Only about 1,300 miles of transmission were completed in 2018 and even less in 2017, compared to the peak of 4,500 in 2013.
ScottMadden’s analysis for WIRES (1/20) finds that without strategic and timely expansion of the transmission infrastructure, the ability of states to meet their clean energy mandates by 2030 may be in jeopardy .
Grid Reliability and Resilience
According to the US Department of Energy in The Smart Grid: An Introduction (PDF, 4.5 MB), outages and power quality issues are estimated to cost American business more than $100 billion on average each year.
By 2030, electrification of transportation and heating sources could increase nationwide annual energy demand by 5% to 15%.
Investment in the electric grid will:
- Reduce transmission energy losses
- Reduce congestion due to transmission outages
- Mitigate extreme events and system contingencies
- Mitigate weather and load uncertainty
A more robust grid helps protect against and recover from all types of unexpected events, including deliberate attacks on our infrastructure, while a weak and congested grid makes the system vulnerable to disruption.
Investing in transmission expansion improves electric reliability and resilience. Download the Grid Vision: The Electric Highway to a 21st Century Economy (PDF, 2 MB).
Economic Development and Consumer Savings
According to a 2019 Brattle Group report for WIRES, $30–$90 billion in incremental transmission investments will be necessary in the U.S. by 2030 to cost-effectively meet the changing system needs due to electrification, with an additional $200–$600 billion investment required between 2030 and 2050.
In a 2011 Report for WIRES, the Brattle Group said a likely annual investment range of $12 billion to $16 billion in transmission through 2030 would stimulate $30 billion to $40 billion in economic activity and support 150,000 to 200,000 full-time jobs per year.
With C$45 billion in planned Canadian transmission investments through 2030, averaging C$5 billion annually over the next several years. This level of Canadian investment will support between 20,000 and 50,000 fulltime jobs annually.
Once operational, the expanded transmission infrastructure will also enable additional economic activity, such as the construction of renewable generation projects, which is estimated to support 130,000 to 250,000 full-time jobs in the U.S. during each year of the projected 20-year renewable generation construction effort.
In a 2018 analysis, London Economics International found that an Eastern Interconnect sample line designed to increase capacity between two regional markets operated by PJM and MISO delivered broad benefits to the economy, workers and consumers in the 3-4 years leading up to the project and in the first 15 years of operation:
- 4,200 jobs added annually
- GDP increased by $710M
- $275M in savings per year for consumers on electricity costs
In addition to these employment and economic stimulus benefits from constructing the facilities and manufacturing equipment, strengthening of the transmission grid provides other important economic benefits, including:
- Reduced transmission losses, production cost savings, enhanced wholesale power market competition and liquidity, and associated wholesale power price reductions
- Increased reliability, insurance against high-cost outcomes under extreme market conditions, and increased flexibility of grid operations
- Generation investment cost savings and access to lower-cost renewable generation
- Increased federal, state, and local tax income