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Electric Transmission: Building the Next Interstate System

We must efficiently deliver wholesale power within competitive regional markets.

Fortnightly Magazine - January 2006
  • industrial plants;
  • Develop and implement pass-through mechanisms for transmission rates to ensure timely cost recovery to foster adequate development of interstate transmission in support of state and national needs; and
  • Facilitate interstate transmission siting through participation at the federal level or through regional compact participation in the federal process.

The RTOs/ISOs or other transmission service providers should:

  • Provide leadership in regional planning efforts to enable lower-cost interstate transmission solutions, including R&D for better-interconnected system controls and corridor development; and
  • Provide independent oversight to determine benefits for transmission solutions to enable equitable sharing of those benefits by transmission developers and consumers.

The transmission owners should:

  • Participate fully in development of an interstate transmission grid;
  • Facilitate interstate transmission development by providing corridors, capital, and connectivity to existing infrastructure; and
  • Maintain reliability at the regional and local level pursuant to NERC standards, and state and federal regulations.

AEP, a longtime leader in transmission technology development, has more than 2,000 miles of 765-kV transmission lines that can be the launching point for a regional or national transmission grid overlay. The 765-kV system uses a fraction of the rights-of-way needed for lower-voltage transmission and maximizes the economies of scale for the required capacity. It proved reliable during the August 2003 blackout.

A true interstate transmission system is critical to meet the needs of our nation and our states by enhancing efficiency, reliability and security, as well as enabling a fully developed electricity marketplace. When Eisenhower became frustrated by the debate over a critical interstate need, he said, “Adequate financing there must be, but contention over the method should not be permitted to deny our people these critically needed roads.”

An interstate electric transmission system can be developed if we pursue a vision as strong and as clear as Ike’s.