WATT

Advanced Transmission Technologies Shown to Double Regional Renewable Energy Capacity 

Download the press release, a summary of the report’s findings, or the full report.

Watch the recording of the release event on YouTube.

Today, the Working for Advanced Transmission Technologies (WATT) Coalition released a new analysis titled Unlocking the Queue from The Brattle Group, quantifying the benefits of three Grid-Enhancing Technologies (GETs). The study’s sophisticated model demonstrates that dynamic line ratings, advanced power flow control and topology optimization could enable Kansas and Oklahoma to integrate 5,200 MW of wind and solar generation currently in interconnection queues by 2025, more than double the development possible without the technologies.  

On a national scale, the results of the study suggest that GETs could deliver: 

  • Carbon emissions cuts equal to taking 20 million cars off the road (90 million tons per year) 
  • $5 billion in yearly energy cost savings, with upfront investment paid back in just 6 months 
  • 330,000 local construction jobs, and 20,000 high-paying operations jobs  
  • Double the amount of renewables that can be integrated prior to building large scale transmission lines. 

The WATT Coalition proposes four legislative and regulatory recommendations to enable the benefits quantified in the Unlocking the Queue

  • Federal infrastructure stimulus should invest in deployment of GETs, to create jobs, modernize the grid, and create long-term cost savings while addressing climate change. 
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should act to require GETs be considered in transmission planning. 
  • FERC should create incentives for GETs deployment, which are currently broken due to the cost-recovery business model for transmission in the United States. 
  • Renewable developers should be allowed to request and have GETs offered as a least-cost solution to connect to the grid. 

The study is published by the WATT Coalition and funded by GridLab, EDF Renewables North America, NextEra Energy Resources, and Duke Energy Renewables. 

“This report shows how active management of the grid can deliver more clean power over the existing network, benefitting customers and the environment in the very near term,” said Rob Gramlich, Executive Director of the WATT Coalition. “These technologies are proven, and small adjustments to regulations will lead to widespread benefits. The value to the climate and the economy is too large to leave on the table.” 

“There is a disconnect right now between transmission access and the best large-scale clean energy resources, which is why we need to move quickly to expand transmission capacity to connect centers of supply and demand in this new energy landscape,” said Senator Martin Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “While additional transmission infrastructure will be required to support the transition to a clean energy economy, I encourage FERC and the Department of Energy to provide incentives for deployment of advanced technologies that improve the capacity and efficiency of the existing transmission grid, often at a substantial savings to consumers.” 

“GETs are providing real value to the grid, in the few places in the U.S. where they are deployed,” said Congressman Sean Casten. “This study shows that they have much more to offer in advancing the energy transition, maintaining system reliability and resilience and saving customers money. The barriers to full deployment are relatively small, compared to the other hurdles for full decarbonization, so let’s get moving.” 

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is empowered to unlock the benefits of GETs through incentive regulation,” said former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff. “This report adds to the overwhelming evidence that GETs will rapidly payback investment, substantially reduce costs for consumers and lower carbon through accelerated integration of renewable energy by enabling active operation of the system with real time monitoring and control technologies. Electric consumers and transmission developers need FERC to act now to align financial incentives by instituting a rule to integrate GETs into transmission operations and planning.” 

“The grid needs big transmission investments, but that doesn’t mean that more lines are the only element of the grid of the future,” said Michael Skelly, founder of Clean Line Energy Partners and Senior Advisor of Lazard. “The value of GETs quantified in Unlocking the Queue is impressive, but the timeline is even more important. Doubling renewable energy capacity in under five years at net cost-savings is the kind of quick action we need.” 

Unlocking the Queue Release Event

Keynote Speaker: Representative Kathy Castor, Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis 

Presentation of Report Findings: Jay Caspary, Vice President, Grid Strategies 

Panelists: 

  • Rudolph Wynter, President & COO, Wholesale Networks and US Capital Delivery, National Grid 
  • Al Tamimi, Vice President, Transmission Planning & Policy, Sunflower Electric Power 
  • Rodica Donaldson, Senior Director, Transmission Strategy, EDF Renewables North America 
  • Nora Mead Brownell, EPSY Energy Solutions and former FERC Commissioner 

Moderator: Jenny Erwin, Chair, WATT Coalition and Director, Strategic Marketing, Smart Wires