A new report released by Brattle Principals Judy Chang and Johannes Pfeifenberger finds that reforming the U.S. electric transmission planning and development process to address the evolving energy generation landscape could save customers up tens of billion dollars annually in overall cost savings.
Prepared for WIRES, the Brattle report examines how improved transmission planning can help reduce overall costs in the face of shifting generation mix, evolving regulatory requirements, and changing demands of electricity customers. Specifically, the authors estimate that the net savings associated with a proactive transmission planning and development process would range from: (a) $30 to $70 billion of savings in total generation and transmission investment costs through 2030 for compliance with current regulations; to (b) $47 billion per year of savings in annual customer bills under an even more environmentally-constrained future in which a well-planned grid significantly reduced generation investment and operating costs. The more proactive approach to transmission planning encouraged in the report is recommended regardless of whether the generation shift is driven by evolving energy markets, technological changes, or the requirements in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).
The Brattle report recommends that as state and federal energy regulators and policymakers face the unprecedented challenge of guiding the industry through the rapidly-evolving energy landscape, they should urge transmission planners to move beyond today’s traditional planning approaches focused primarily on addressing reliability issues. Additionally, the authors argue that the industry needs to develop processes able to identify transmission solutions that increase future compliance flexibility while meeting anticipated environmental policy goals at lower costs and lower risks for customers.
This report, “Well-Planned Electric Transmission Saves Customer Costs: Improved Transmission Planning is Key to the Transition to a Carbon-Constrained Future,” is the third in the authors’ series of studies on how improved transmission planning can provide significant overall benefits.