U.S. Needs A Clean Electricity Transmission Plan
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Submitted by EFC Team on March 13th, 2009

There is a critical need for a national approach to planning our electricity infrastructure and developing our domestic renewable energy resources.  Reid Detchon laid out the case for a broader approach to planning for future electricity and transmission needs before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today.  His full testimony can be found here and an excerpt is below.  A transcript of the hearing will be posted shortly.  You can also click here to listen to Reid Detchon on Federal News Radio talking about the costs and benefits of clean energy transmission.

A national Clean Energy Smart Grid is an economic, environmental, and national security imperative – vital to renewing America’s economic growth, strengthening national security, and addressing the threat of global climate change. Investments are needed in both interstate transmission and in smart grid technologies to make the system more reliable, resilient, and secure, to accommodate renewable power and enable more energy efficiency by individuals and businesses.

…In our discussions, the three most important issues standing in the way of new long-distance transmission lines for renewable energy were planning, siting, and cost allocation. Siting was seen as the most pressing issue, because opposition to new lines makes siting extremely time-consuming, difficult, and expensive. However, planning turned out to be the more important issue, as the group concluded that better planning could reduce the difficulty of siting new lines and provide the basis for equitable allocation of costs.

What are some of the benefits of a modernized grid?

  • According to the Department of Energy, obtaining 20% of U.S. electricity from wind in 2030 would reduce electric sector CO2 emissions by 25% – the equivalent of taking 140 million cars off the road – while creating 500,000 jobs and $450 billion in economic impact.
  • Almost 300,000 MW of proposed wind projects, more than enough to meet 20% of our electricity needs, are waiting to connect to the grid because there is inadequate transmission capacity to carry the electricity they would produce. California alone has over 18,000 MW of wind plants and almost 30,000 MW of solar plants waiting to connect to the grid.
  • The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that making the grid smarter with modern control technology could reduce electricity consumption by 5-10%, carbon dioxide emissions by 13-25%, and the cost of power-related disturbances to business (estimated to be more than $100 billion per year) by 87%.
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