Electric transmission investment on the rise

Investor-owned electric utility companies are continuing to make investments to build out transmission infrastructure, and update the nation’s transmission network.

According to a report by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), total transmission investment among EEI members in 2012 reached $14.8 billion (real $2012). The report also indicates that EEI members’ year-over-year transmission investment is expected to hit a new peak in 2013 of about $17.5 billion.

“The high level of investment in our nation’s transmission infrastructure will enable electric utilities to improve reliability, relieve congestion, facilitate wholesale market competition, and support a diverse and changing generation portfolio for the benefit of electricity customers,” said EEI Vice President of Energy Delivery Jim Fama. “Investments to deploy new technologies, such as advanced monitoring systems, are helping to make the grid more flexible and resilient.”

The report further shows that of the transmission projects featured, $26.2 billion (43 percent) are large, interstate transmission projects spanning multiple states; $46.1 billion (76 percent) are projects supporting the integration of renewable energy resources; $29.8 billion (49 percent) are projects where EEI member companies are collaborating with other utilities, including non-EEI members, to develop the project; and $45.7 billion (75 percent) are high-voltage projects of 345 kV and above. Since transmission projects are developed to address an array of needs, and deliver a number of benefits, one project may fall into more than one category.

“The risks and challenges to developing transmission are unlike investment in any other utility plant. In order to continue to attract sufficient levels of capital for needed transmission and the adoption of advanced technologies, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must continue to provide returns on investment that are commensurate with the level of risk, ” added Fama.

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