Study on Transmission as the Solution for the Integration of Renewables and Resilience by ScottMadden for WIRES

January 15, 2020

This new research report highlights the current transmission landscape, focusing on regional differences and interregional considerations.

ScottMadden, Inc., one of North America’s leading management consulting firms specializing in energy, recently partnered with WIRES, the international trade association that promotes investment in all aspects of the high-voltage grid, to release the report, “Informing the Transmission Discussion.” This report, prepared by ScottMadden for WIRES, includes a comprehensive overview of the state of play of transmission. 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 growing concerns about the resilience of the North American electric power system and how all of these issues should be considered from an interregional transmission development perspective.

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.

“Transmission is critical to meeting our evolving clean energy and resilience objectives. However, in spite of its essential role, transmission infrastructure remains extremely difficult to site and build. If we are to meet the myriad clean energy goals and increase the resilience of the grid, more transmission is necessary and policy should facilitate its development,” says Cristin Lyons, partner and energy practice leader at ScottMadden.

“The last few years have seen an ambitious expansion in clean energy mandates and goals,” adds Larry Gasteiger, executive director at WIRES. “It is clear that we need to match those ambitions with an equally strong commitment to strategic transmission infrastructure to ensure the delivery of new energy resources and support resilience of the grid. The varying regional needs and the level of complexity and planning required to meet them are driving WIRES’ and its members’ sense of urgency to address the transmission challenge.”

This report offers a comprehensive review and platform of discussion by planners, policy makers, regulators, and all those who are interested in the development of a robust transmission grid that is adequate to meet environmental and resilience goals. To access the full report, please click here.

About WIRES

WIRES is an international non-profit trade association of investor-, member-, and publicly-owned entities dedicated to promoting investment in a strong, well-planned, and environmentally beneficial high voltage electric transmission grid. WIRES members include integrated utilities, regional transmission organizations, renewable energy developers, and engineering, environmental, and economic policy consulting firms. WIRES’ principles, its studies, and all public comments are available at www.wiresgroup.com.

About ScottMadden’s Energy Practice

We know energy from the ground up. Since 1983, we have served as energy consultants for hundreds of utilities, large and small, including all of the top 20. We focus on Transmission & Distribution, the Grid Edge, Generation, Energy Markets, Rates & Regulation, Enterprise Sustainability, and Corporate Services. Our broad, deep utility expertise is not theoretical—it is experience based. We have helped our clients develop and implement strategies, improve critical operations, reorganize departments and entire companies, and implement myriad initiatives.

About ScottMadden, Inc.

ScottMadden is the management consulting firm that does what it takes to get it done right. We consult in two main areas—Energy and Corporate & Shared Services. We deliver a broad array of consulting services ranging from strategic planning through implementation across many industries, business units, and functions. To learn more, visit www.scottmadden.com | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn

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Media contact:

Mary Tew

marytew@scottmadden.com

919-781-4191

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