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Transmission in the United States: What Makes Developing Electric Transmission So Hard?

White Paper

Electric transmission is a critical part of the energy industry, posing many challenges to meeting the clean energy goals of states, cities, utilities, and private corporations. The new high-voltage transmission will be critical to integrating large-scale renewable resources, balancing the grid over greater distances, and accommodating the additional load anticipated due to electrification. Some estimates suggest that transmission capacity may need to double or triple to facilitate the clean energy transition. Building transmission lines requires significant financial investments and natural resources, which can pose challenges for developing new projects. In addition, electric transmission is subject to strict regulation at the federal, state, and local levels. These regulations can often delay or prevent new projects from being built, making it challenging to meet the growing demand for electric power. As the need for clean energy increases, it will be necessary for policymakers to consider the best possible options to facilitate the development of new electric transmission capacity.

The Difficulties of Electric Transmission Development

Developing transmission is difficult for a variety of reasons, and this paper on Developing electric transmission speaks specifically to challenges related to planning, cost allocation, interconnection queues, ratemaking and incentives, and siting and permitting.

On July 15, The FERC initiated an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR)—”Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection”—that will revisit transmission planning, cost allocation, and interconnection for the first time since the issuance of Order 1000 in 2011. FERC’s focus is driven by the acknowledgment that power transmission is key to the clean energy transition, and the ANOPR suggests that FERC is open to bold changes.

As the industry comments on the ANOPR, this paper points to the key issues that will need to be addressed to build the infrastructure that is required.


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