Some argue that gas pipelines might substitute … but … nothing will do away with the need for more transmission.
Thomas R. Kuhn is president of the Edison Electric Institute, the Washington-based association of U.S. shareholder-owned electric utilities that deliver nearly three-fourths of the nation’s electric power.
Our nation's transmission infrastructure is increasingly unable to meet new demands for power created by rapidly changing electricity markets. Although reliability protocols ensure against catastrophic failure, there is ample evidence today that the grid is too congested. The long, high-voltage lines and the big towers that carry electricity from power plants to distribution facilities, to our homes and our businesses, need upgrading and expansion.
The North American Electric Reliability Council says, "The nation is at ... a crisis stage with respect to reliability of transmission grids." The U.S. transmission system requires nearly $56 billion in new investment over the next 10 years to maintain the reliability of the grid, but only $35 billion will likely be invested, a recent study shows.
California has been the poster child for many electricity problems-and transmission is no exception. A new draft study from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says congestion costs on the main north-south transmission line (Path 15) in California added up to $73 million in one month alone last year. FERC staff believes that total transmission constraint costs nationwide add up to several hundred million dollars.