Edison Electric Institute Releases 4th Annual Transmission Report

Edison Electric Institute's (EEI's) “Transmission Projects: At a Glance” report showcases representative transmission projects that EEI member companies have planned for the next 10 years and captures the efforts of EEI members' increased focus on transmission investment.

This report, prepared by EEI with assistance from Navigant Consulting Inc., is not a comprehensive compilation of all projects that are being undertaken by EEI members, but the sampling of projects described does capture a wide variety of project types currently under construction or planned.

The trend in increased investment in transmission infrastructure of the United States that began several years ago continues in response to various needs including reliability and generator interconnection. Despite the economic downturn, the investment being made by EEI member companies is significant and growing, and reflects preparation for future customer needs.

From 2001 to 2008, EEI members invested nearly US$57.5 billion in transmission infrastructure improvements to meet these various needs. The representative projects highlighted in this report total nearly $56 billion (nominal dollars) in expected future transmission system investments from 2009 through the year 2020 and are only a portion of the total transmission investment anticipated through 2020 by EEI member companies.

This trend in increased transmission investment is due, in part, to several landmark developments in federal and state policies affecting transmission infrastructure, notably, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and federal transmission pricing policies being implemented by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The adoption of these pricing policies is helping to sustain the continued level of investment growth.

Three broad categories of transmission investment are covered by projects in this year's report: Transmission Line and Non-transmission Line Transmission System Investments; Transmission Supporting the Integration of Renewable Resources; and Transmission Related Smart Grid Projects. However, it is important to remember that transmission projects have the potential to address an array of purposes; some are needed to maintain high levels of reliability that customers expect and others may deliver a number of benefits such as congestion relief, reduced system losses, integration of resources and deployment of advanced monitoring systems to enhance situational awareness.

While projects may be designed for a particular primary purpose, they often provide additional benefits. At the same time, all such projects must be properly integrated with local systems to maintain the paramount objective of reliable operation of the grid. Moreover, in accordance with FERC's 2009-14 Strategic Plan, projects need to be developed “through the use of open and transparent processes that include analysis and consideration on a comparable basis of proposed solutions involving any of generation, transmission and demand resources.”

Spanning the three broad investment categories described above, large interstate projects highlighted in this report crossing more than one state and involving numerous entities at the federal, state and local levels account for approximately 10,000 circuit miles (16,093 km) of transmission representing a $39 billion (nominal dollars) investment. These interstate projects face significant challenges for siting, permitting, cost allocation and cost recovery.

Projects addressing the integration of renewable resources represent the addition or upgrade of nearly 12,900 circuit miles (20,761 km) of transmission with an accompanying transmission investment cost of approximately $37 billion (nominal dollars).

Finally, EEI's member companies are continuing their efforts to modernize the transmission system. The latest addition to this ongoing effort is the use of Smart Grid Investment Grants (SGIGs) for certain projects selected by the Department of Energy which augment existing EEI member grid modernization efforts.


Editor's note: EEI's “Transmission Projects: At a Glance” report is available at http://www.eei.org/OURISSUES/ELECTRICITYTRANSMISSION/Pages/TransmissionProjectsAt.aspx.

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