Grid Futures: Evolutionary Directions for Electric System Architecture

This scenario analysis looks at four possible futures of the transmission and distribution grid. By exploring two salient axes—technology and policy, the paper lays out a simple but powerful frame for thinking about the future of transmission and distribution. The paper clearly explains each of the four scenarios that the axes create, and then draws a couple of important conclusions. First, it points out that distribution system upgrades should be a no-regrets move. Second, it suggests that we cannot “build ourselves out of” the transmission and distribution challenges we face as we expand and transform generation capacity – for the grid to continue to serve us, we must move forward on both transmission and distribution technology as well as pure capacity.