ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Urgent Need For Planning New Transmission Now
'Should have started yesterday': Why better transmission planning is urgently necessary for tomorrow's grid; The power mix is changing fast and it will cost ratepayers if transmission planners don’t catch up, according to a new report from the Brattle Group.
Herman K. Trabish, June 15, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The Trump administration initiative to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure is a big opportunity for long-needed new transmission.
An adage warns that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Transmission experts say system planners may be doing just that. As the U.S. moves toward a power mix with more renewable resources and flexible generation, transmission will be a key element in enabling the grid to handle the transition. Recent record-breaking renewable energy penetrations would have been impossible without aggressive transmission building in recent years. But building transmission lines is one of the most arduous, time-consuming tasks in the power sector, and so even as demand for a more diverse power mix intensifies, transmission buildout struggles to keep pace. A recent Brattle Group report warns that transmission planners are failing to prepare to meet the challenge of the transforming generation mix.
Successful planning could save $30 to $70 billion in generation and transmission investments through 2030, researchers said. And a well-planned system could net U.S. ratepayers as much as $47 billion in savings annually. The long lead time in planning transmission lines means planning should start immediately to meet the evolving power mix and regulatory goals from 2020 to 2030. The current use of reliability as the primary measure of transmission value and planning leads to a segmented grid, deficient in the flexibility needed to manage the emerging generation mix. And the current transmission investment cycle is the first opportunity in a half-century to streamline the Balkanized system while controlling costs and environmental impacts… click here for more