A region-by-region study of the transmission challenges and opportunities posed by renewable integration and the need for broader grid resilience

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15, 2020 – WIRES, the international trade association that promotes investment in all aspects of the high voltage grid, today released a comprehensive report prepared on its behalf by ScottMadden that provides a region-by-region analysis of renewables integration and resilience issues. Informing the Transmission Discussion highlights concerns that without strategic and timely expansion of transmission infrastructure, the ability to meet clean energy mandates and goals may be in jeopardy. The study also explores regional resilience concerns due to extreme weather events and limitations in the energy supply, and makes interregional recommendations for renewables integration and grid hardening.

“The last few years have seen an ambitious expansion in clean energy mandates and goals,” said Larry Gasteiger, Executive Director of WIRES. “It is clear that we need to match those ambitions with an equally strong commitment to strategic transmission infrastructure to ensure the delivery of new energy resources. At the same time, we are seeing increasing risks and challenges to maintaining the resilience of the grid. The varying regional needs and the level of complexity and planning required to meet them, are driving WIRES’ and its members’ sense of urgency to address the transmission challenge.”

ScottMadden projects more than 600 terawatt hours (TWh) to 714 TWh of mandated clean energy demand by 2030. The report compares this demand to the regional forecasts for wind and solar supply, noting opportunities for intra-regional, and inter-regional import and export of supply. A 2019 report prepared for WIRES by the Brattle Group estimates the need for $30-$90 billion in incremental investment in new transmission infrastructure by 2030 to connect all of the new generation resources and ensure resilience.

“Transmission is critical to meeting our evolving clean energy and resilience objectives,” said Cristin Lyons, partner and energy practice leader at ScottMadden. “However, in spite of its essential role, transmission infrastructure remains extremely difficult to site and build. If we are to meet the myriad clean energy goals and increase the resilience of the grid, more transmission is necessary and policy should facilitate its development.”

WIRES offers this report to facilitate a comprehensive review and discussion by planners, policy makers, regulators, and those who are interested in the development of a robust transmission grid that is adequate to meet environmental and resilience goals. The organization is encouraging state, regional and federal policymakers and stakeholders to use this report as a tool to better align their processes and policies to spur development of this critical infrastructure.

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