Transmission Congestion Costs in the U.S. RTOs: GETs Can Save Us

2021 was a record year for transmission congestion. Consulting firm Grid Strategies LLC estimates that U.S. consumers paid for $13 billion in congestion costs – nearly double the five-year average. The WATT Coalition estimates that about 30% of grid congestion can be addressed using Grid Enhancing Technologies (GETs). 

In 2021, GETs could have saved consumers over $4 billion in congestion costs alone.

How do Grid Enhancing Technologies help?

The grid’s capabilities are dynamic, subject to ambient conditions such as wind, heat, and cold, and dependent on where electricity demand and generation are dispersed across the network. However, the grid is still operated like a static asset, with line ratings held constant and power allowed to flow on the default path of least resistance.

Dynamic Line Ratings (DLR), Advanced Power Flow Control (APFC) and topology optimization enable operators to unlock the full capabilities of the grid, measuring its true capacity and adjusting the flow of power.

Why aren’t GETs on the grid?

Forward-thinking American utilities are starting to operationalize GETs (see examples in Duquesne Light and National Grid), but the U.S. is far behind Europe, Australia, and South America.

Two key problems prevent U.S. utilities from deploying GETs:

  1. Large investor-owned utilities do not have an incentive to use GETs, because their business models are based on return on equity rather than performance or innovation. A FERC Technical Conference collected stakeholder perspectives.
  2. All utilities will have to train staff and modify planning and operational procedures to deploy GETs. Federal resources can help utilities develop expertise.

The electricity industry should be pushing for GETs to become standard practice in transmission planning and operations. To learn more, get involved, and stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter.