A Look at Renewables Integration and Resilience Issues for Power Transmission in Selected Regions of the United States

This report was prepared by ScottMadden, Inc. for WIRES. The study includes a comprehensive overview of the current state of play of the electric industry and conducts a region-by-region examination of the challenges posed by changing energy resources, increasing electrification, and a greater need and preference for location-constrained renewables integration, in addition to addressing growing concerns about and risks to the resilience of the North American electric power system. The study also explores how these issues should be considered from an interregional transmission development perspective.

One of the clear takeaways from the report is that transmission can, and should, play a significant role in addressing the challenges raised by these factors. In particular, as more states, utilities, and other companies are mandating or committing to clean energy targets and agendas, it will not be possible to meet those goals without additional transmission to connect desired resources to load. Similarly, the current transmission system will need further expansion and hardening beyond the traditional focus on meeting reliability needs if the system is to be adequately designed and constructed to withstand and timely recover from disruptive or low probability, high-impact events affecting the resilience of the bulk power system.

The goal of this study is to inform policymakers and the public of the region-specific needs, issues, and challenges including the integration of location-constrained renewable resources and resilience. This review is done with a view of where and how transmission can and should play a role in addressing these needs.

To the extent all of these signs point toward a need for more transmission, time is of the essence. In the current environment, transmission is increasingly more difficult to build and operate. With transmission projects taking ten years or longer to be built and put into service, decisions regarding any transmission projects required to meet renewables integration and resilience concerns must be made with sufficient lead time if they are to play a role in meeting needs existing today, much less in the future. WIRES offers this report to facilitate a comprehensive review and discussion by planners, policy makers, regulators, and all those who are interested in the development of a robust transmission grid that is adequate to meet environmental and resilience goals.

Map from the report showing the 2030 estimated renewable energy demand vs solar/wind supply forecast comparison by region as of July 2019.

US map showing 2030 estimated renewable energy demand vs solar wind supply forecast comparison by region.

Map showing increasing clean energy goals and preferences.

US map showing renewable and clean energy goals by state, June 2019
Line and angle artwork

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