US Coalition Launches Transmission Buildout ‘Call to Action’

Led by industry association Advanced Energy United, the Transmission Possible coalition includes the American Council on Renewable Energy (Acore), Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, the National Wildlife Federation, the Environmental League of Massachusetts and the Northeast Clean Energy Council.

To reach the national goal of 100% clean energy by 2035, the US will have to build up to 91,000 miles (147,000km) of new transmission lines over the next decade, according to research by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the coalition pointed out.

Overall, NREL found that the US needs between 1,400 and 10,100 miles of new high-capacity lines per year, assuming new construction starts in 2026, to meet the 2035 goal.

This could create up to 3.3 million jobs, spur $15.3 billion in private capital investments, and “save customers billions a year on their electricity bills”, the Transmission Possible coalition said.

In the interim, widespread deployment of grid-enhancing technologies could unlock as much as 40% more capacity from existing transmission infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions by 90 million tonnes per year, it added.

Verna Mandez, director at Advanced Energy United, said the Transmission Possible campaign is a ‘call to action’. “Much of America’s transmission infrastructure was built in the 1950s and ‘60s, and even though the technology has come a long way since then, we really haven’t made any significant improvements to the grid in 70 years,” she said.

“Building interregional transmission lines is the way we ensure we have a reliable power grid that cost-effectively delivers energy from where it’s generated to where it’s needed,” she added.

The campaign will:

  • endorse state policies that encourage the buildout of transmission lines;

  • encourage regional collaboration among states to plan transmission lines across state boundaries;
  • support deployment of immediate solutions to grid congestion, including tools such as high-performance conductors and grid-enhancing technologies;

Transmission Possible will also host a resource to inform decision makers, stakeholders and the public about the role of transmission in ensuring grid reliability and accelerating the transition to clean energy.

“A lack of sufficient interregional transmission capacity is threatening grid reliability, raising electricity bills, and slowing the pace of low-cost clean energy deployment,” said Acore president and CEO Ray Long.

Kelt Wilska, offshore wind director at the Environmental League of Massachusetts (ELM), said that building transmission lines for clean energy sources like offshore wind will create a “better, more reliable power grid” that ensures lower energy costs and increased energy diversity and independence.

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