EEI report: Renewables the reason for most transmission projects
By Jesse Berst
Quick Take: Edison Electric Institute's annual Transmission Projects: At a Glance reveals that investment in U.S. transmission projects continues to grow. It hit $11.1 billion in 2011 and is projected to continue growing through 2013 to reach $15.1 billion this year. Why the growth? Just over three-fourths of all the projects were in support of renewable resources.
Despite the rosy predictions for this year, the report predicts that annual transmission expenditures will decline starting in 2014. It cites several major projects that have recently been modified, delayed or canceled. Those changes and cancellations were primarily due to lower than expected growth in demand, attributable to the current economic environment. Other factors include the improvements in energy efficiency and demand response, which are reducing the need for transmission to bring in additional supply.
Although not cited by the report, I believe the rapid shift to natural gas will also decrease the need for big transmission projects. Natural gas plants can much more easily be sited near population centers as compared to coal, nuclear or renewables.
The report provides snapshots of over 150 transmission projects by EEI member companies, totaling approximately $51.1 billion in transmission investments through 2023. It also highlights the broad range of transmission projects under way in the U.S. that support a variety of needs and objectives.
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Jesse Berst is the founder and chief analyst of Smart Grid News.com, the industry's oldest and largest smart grid site. A frequent keynoter at industry events in the U.S. and abroad, he also serves on advisory committees for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the Institute for Electric Efficiency. He often provides strategic consulting to large corporations and venture-backed startups. He is a member of the advisory boards of GridGlo and Calico Energy Services.