New High Voltage Transmission Would Facilitate Growth of Renewables

A new report by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to Congress encourages the body to consider the value and benefits of building out and rebuilding the nation’s aging and limited high-voltage transmission grid.

The report, “Report on Barriers and Opportunities for High Voltage Transmission: A Report to the Committees on Appropriations of Both Houses of Congress Pursuant to the 2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act,” concluded that high voltage transmission can offer a number of benefits in different areas and ways.

“High voltage transmission can improve the reliability and resilience of the transmission system by allowing utilities to share generating resources, enhance the stability of the existing transmission system, aid with restoration and recovery after an event, and improve frequency response and ancillary services throughout the existing system,” said the report.

A rebuild transmission grid would also provide access to renewable energy sources for those in hard-to-reach locations, according to the report, which would help federal, state and local government met their green energy goals.

“New high voltage transmission lines can increase the availability of carbon-free energy and facilitate the replacement of energy generated by fossil fuels, thereby helping states meet their targets by reducing [greenhouse gas] emissions,” said the report.

That is, as high voltage transmission lines are able to carry larger amounts of power for longer distances, those lines could potentially bring large amounts of new wind and solar power from rural areas, where this type of generation is often located, to areas with higher power demand.

Overall, the report noted four reliability and resilience benefits of high voltage transmission: sharing of resources across regions by improving interregional power transfer capability, aiding with restoration and recovery after an event, improving frequency response and enhancing the ability of the interconnected transmission system.

It also noted four opportunities: state policy opportunities, market opportunities for high voltage transmission, opportunities for co-location in transportation corridors and federal transmission planning policies and studies.

And, it identified four potential barriers to high voltage transmission: permitting regimes, planning challenges, federal transmission planning rules and barriers to co-location in transportation corridors.

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