U.S. Transmission System Needs Overhaul to Meet Renewable Goals


The current processes in and between regional transmission organizations (RTOs) are impeding the development of low-cost renewable power, according to a review recently released of regional and interregional transmission planning in the Great Plains, Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.

The analysis from Concentric Energy Advisors, commissioned by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) as part of the Macro Grid Initiative in coordination with the American Clean Power Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association, identifies the primary deficiencies and potential solutions for greater renewable deployment in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the PJM Interconnection (PJM).

“Our country’s transmission system is in need of a 21st-century makeover if we’re going to have any shot at achieving the level of renewable deployment necessary to address our climate challenge,” says Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of ACORE. “The current transmission planning processes in these regions are not working to deliver the affordable clean energy that states, businesses and consumers are demanding.”

Based on a series of interviews with key market participants and stakeholders in SPP, MISO and PJM, the report concludes:

-Centrally coordinated planning at the interregional and RTO levels is needed to identify the geographic areas where untapped renewable energy resources exist and develop optimal and cost-efficient paths for transmission infrastructure development to deliver low-cost renewable resources to load centers
-Interregional transmission planning should rely on either a unified national interregional planning model or regional models that have sufficiently aligned planning objectives, assumptions, benefit metrics and cost allocation methodologies to properly assess benefits and costs of interregional transmission projects
-Benefit metrics used to assess the comparable benefit of projects relative to their costs should be expanded and standardized across regions to the extent possible
-Cost allocation for generator interconnection upgrades should be shared with load or other interconnecting generators based on a fair allocation of benefits

To download the new analysis, How Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation Processes are Inhibiting Wind and Solar Development in SPP, MISO and PJM, click here.

Photo: Gregory Wetstone

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