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

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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