New Research Report on Transmission as the Solution for the Integration of Renewables and Resilience by ScottMadden for WIRES

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Overview

This report, prepared by ScottMadden for WIRES, includes a comprehensive overview of the state of play of transmission in the United States. It examines, region by region, the challenges posed by a changing energy mix, increasing electrification, and the increasing need for location-constrained renewables. The report also discusses the resilience of the electric power system and how transmission, both intra- and interregional, should play a role in meeting these challenges.

The electric industry has undergone a tremendous amount of change over the past two decades, and it continues to evolve as policy, customer preferences, improving technology costs, and the focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions drive shifts in energy resources and consumption. Four key developments warrant consideration given their impacts on the bulk power system and transmission in particular: the changing energy mix, deployment of distributed energy resources and energy storage, aspirations for beneficial electrification, and the strong interest in renewable and zero emissions resources.

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. As more states, utilities, and other companies are mandating or committing to clean energy goals, it will not be possible to meet those targets without additional transmission. Similarly, the current transmission system will need expansion and hardening if it is to withstand, reduce, and recover quickly from high-impact events affecting the bulk power system.

This points toward the need for more transmission and time is of the essence. In the current environment, transmission is increasingly difficult to build. With greenfield transmission projects taking 10 years or longer to be put into service, decisions regarding any transmission projects required to meet renewables integration and resilience concerns must be made quickly.

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