Experts agree that America needs more transmission capacity to carry cheap wind and solar power to where it’s needed. But they also agree that the country needs to make better use of the transmission grids it already has.
Congestion costs on key U.S. transmission networks rose from $3.8 billion in 2016 to just over $5 billion in 2018, according to research group Grid Strategies, adding to the costs of energy delivered to customers.
Lack of capacity on key portions of the country’s grid is also barring new renewable energy projects from being brought online. Building new transmission to solve the problem is an expensive and time-consuming effort, and even if renewable project developers and their offtakers can afford it, projects can be derailed by landowner lawsuits and unfavorable regulatory rulings.
That’s driving a call for federal regulators to align policies that impact how transmission operators and owners invest in their systems with technologies that can help solve the problem.