Regional Transmission and Distribution Planning

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Decisions and investments made in the coming decade will shape the course of the United States’ power sector, economy, and public health for decades to come. Will this massive investment lock in an inefficient, century-old system reliant primarily on centralized fossil fuel, or will it move us toward a cleaner, more efficient, and economic energy future?

According to independent expert analyses, the cost of a renewables-heavy grid is lower than the existing system, but only with robust transmission to complement it. The barriers to building new high voltage lines and optimizing the grid aren’t technical or economic, but rather bureaucratic. Insufficient policies prevent the U.S. from accessing its rich resources of clean energy, and spreading the resulting benefits throughout the economy.

In addition to classic transmission planning, work in the area of “non-transmission alternatives” can also play an important role in minimizing system costs by taking advantage of a whole new class of reliable, clean resources. Non-transmission alternatives include resources like energy efficiency, local generation, microgrids, demand response, and more.

Energy Innovation’s papers on transmission and siting comprise a toolkit for state and federal decision makers to coordinate better, engage stakeholders more effectively, optimize the existing grid, capitalize upon important non-transmission demand-side resources demand-side, and stimulate competition to fast-track the most important projects.

 

Resources

Maintaining A Reliable Grid Under EPA’s Proposed 111 Rules Restricting Power Plant Emissions

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed “111 rules” restricting greenhouse gas emissions have sparked debate about whether they will create consequences that threaten grid reliability. New Energy Innovation research details the potential impacts of the EPA rules, investigates their effects on the electricity system, and evaluates potential changes in reliability. We find utilities have ample existing tools to comply with the rules and maintain system reliability.

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Tools for Energy Regulators to Manage Power Sector Inflation

Clean energy costs have fallen so fast over the past decade that they’re now the cheapest sources of new electricity generation. But that trend has reversed and clean energy costs have modestly risen– is it a blip or a sign of things to come? New Energy Innovation research shows the factors driving clean energy cost increases are mostly cyclical and temporary.

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Accelerating U.S. Clean Energy Deployment Through Investment-Grade Policies

Because of significant reductions in the cost of clean energy, economics are no longer the prime barrier to expanding clean energy: Solar, onshore and offshore wind, and battery power now cost the same or even less than fossil fuels. But significant non-financial barriers to wider deployment remain. Clean energy deployment is rife with uncertainties, most of them unnecessary. These uncertainties are constraining clean energy deployment right when it should be accelerating.

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Rewiring The U.S. For Economic Recovery

This report outlines policy recommendations for Congress, federal departments and agencies, national laboratories, governors and state legislators, public utility commissions, and wholesale electricity markets to reach 90 percent clean electricity by 2035 in the United States.

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Siting Renewable Generation: The Northeast Perspective

The Northeastern U.S. is simultaneously home to the most ambitious regional renewable energy goals and the most constrained lands in the U.S. This paper builds upon past work on siting policy to examine siting solutions tailored to meeting renewable energy demand in a land-constrained region. Along with creative new approaches to renewables siting, the paper examines four approaches to reduce the need for land-intensive utility-scale renewables.

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Siting Policy: Finding a Home for Renewable Energy and Transmission

This paper focuses on the reforms needed to locate, coordinate, and expedite any new generation or transmission that the grid system requires. New approaches will require engaging stakeholders early, accelerating innovative policy and business models, coordinating among regulatory bodies, employing…

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Transmission Policy: Planning for and Investing in Wires

This whitepaper, written as part of America’s Power Plan, describes the need to update and improve America’s grid infrastructure. This is especially important as new energy sources and distributed generation are increasingly added to the system. This paper suggests five…

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Articles

Saving Time, Money And The Environment With Smart Planning For Power Lines

America’s Power Plan expert Alex Dau outlines how regional power line transmission projects to support clean energy can be built without sacrificing environmental protection in the Western United States.

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Canadian Hydro: A Lifeline for Northeastern Clean Energy Goals?

Land-constrained Northeastern states looking for creative solutions to decarbonize their electricity system and maintain affordable, reliable electricity service have renewed interest in an old resource: imported Canadian hydroelectricity. Two recent policies from Massachusetts and New York have spurred this interest:

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The Western US Needs Better Regional Planning to Modernize the Grid

In order to develop a dynamic bulk electric grid, system planning and operation — as well as how entities are compensated for the energy, power, ancillary services, and emissions reductions — must evolve together.

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