Clean energy transmission facts

Facts

Electricity is the lifeblood of the American economy. The ability to move electricity from where it’s generated to where it’s consumed is essential to everything we do. However, our electric grid is aging and needs sustained investment to ensure reliable, affordable power for families and businesses.

Reports

This first-of-its-kind study details clean energy’s potential to unlock economic growth and achieve majority renewable electricity generation within the next decade.

Building a 21st century clean energy economy

Benefits of transmission

Americans rely on well-connected, reliable regional electric grids to keep the lights on and the economy running. Building new transmission increases reliability, affordability, and resiliency.

Highways of electricity

Our transmission infrastructure acts like America’s highways, efficiently moving low-cost electricity to where it’s needed.

A faster clean energy transition

Transmission helps connect and scale up new technologies—including renewables and energy storage—while supporting traditional power sources.

Investing in our future

Studies show transmission upgrades more than pay for themselves because of the increased reliability and economic benefits.

Benefits outweigh costs

MISO found the benefits of transmission upgrades are 2.6 to 3.9 times greater than their cost. SPP found upgrades would save $2,400 per customer.

A system in need of updating

WIth 70% of transmission lines over 25 years old, the ASCE ranked America’s power grid infrastructure an unacceptable D+.

Drawing on past examples

As with the evolution of our infrastructure, we must update the electric grid to power our economy, enhance reliability, and reduce costs.

Why invest in transmission?

Lowering costs

Increased transmission gives consumers access to the most affordable sources of electricity.

Why invest in transmission?

Building a more reliable, resilient system

Our transmission infrastructure is designed to handle the unexpected—from natural disasters to national security threats. Just as multiple roads ensure the efficient delivery of goods and services, a well-connected grid with robust transmission ensures American families and businesses can always access the power they need.

Why invest in transmission?

Creating a cleaner electric grid

Today, our nation’s inadequate transmission capabilities prevent us from fully harnessing large quantities of low-cost American wind, solar, and other clean energy resources. We need to invest in transmission to fully realize America’s clean energy potential.

Why invest in transmission?

Strengthening the U.S. economy

Connecting our world-class, low-cost clean energy resources to the electric grid will save consumers and businesses money while creating good jobs and driving investment in rural communities.

Why we need to invest in expanding transmission

Frequently asked questions
Is transmission expansion only needed if we want to get more of our energy from clean sources?

No. America’s electric grid has grown outdated and is in severe need of modernization. In fact, the American Society of Civil Engineers recently gave our power grid infrastructure a D+ and 70% of U.S. transmission lines are over 25 years old. Many transmission lines are over 100 years old, meaning we’re charging our smartphones and laptops using technology that was built when some parts of the country were still relying on candles to light their homes. In reality, while expanding transmission is vital for growing clean energy, it will also make our entire power system more affordable, reliable, and resilient.

Is it easy to build new transmission lines?

Unfortunately, it can take 10 years or more to build new transmission lines. Inefficiencies in the permitting and planning processes for new transmission lines can make bringing a project to completion an unnecessarily lengthy process. That delays consumers from realizing the many benefits transmission can bring to the electric grid, our economy, and the environment. You can learn more about bipartisan, common sense reforms that would make building transmission lines easier on our transmission policy page.

Is it expensive to build new transmission lines?

While there are upfront costs, dozens of studies from across the country show that transmission line investments pay for themselves many times over, and real-world examples bear this out. SPP, the grid manager for parts of 14 states, found transmission upgrades it installed between 2012 and 2014 created over $16 billion in gross savings—3.5 times greater than their cost. MISO, which manages the grid across parts of 15 states, found recent transmission investments will provide $12 to $53 billion in net benefits over the next 20 to 40 years, or between $250 and $1,000 for each person MISO currently serves. The benefits are 2.2 to 3.4 times greater than the cost of the transmission. Transmission expansion also alleviates power line congestion, which creates inefficiencies that cost consumers approximately $6 billion a year.

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