photo by Patrick Boury
The US Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee today held its first ever hearing focusing exclusively on renewable energy and transmission. Testifying on behalf of the wind industry was Don Furman, president-elect of the American Wind Energy Association, and Senior Vice President of Iberdrola Renewables.
Furman sums up the state of US electrical transmission, "Like any infrastructure, the U.S. transmission grid is aging and needs upgrading to function reliably and to meet future load requirements. At the same time, the nation has tremendous renewable energy reserves, but the existing electric transmission system was not designed to tap these new kinds of generation. The good news is that we have the opportunity to solve both problems at once."
Key Points of Furman's Testimony
Lack of sufficient transmission capacity is not only a threat to reliability it increases the price of electricity. Transmission congestion can constrain the ability of utilities to access the cheapest electric sources, which may not be those closest at hand.
Investment it transmission capacity is expensive at the beginning but consumers ultimately will save money. Citing an estimate by the Midwest Independent System Operator, Furman stated that an investment that would allow wind energy generated in North and South Dakota to be brought to New York City would cost $13 billion to build but ultimately would result in an annual saving at the consumer level of $600 million per year.
Investment is transmission has benefits beyond monetary savings for the consumer: reduction of electric section greenhouse gas emission by 25%; potential reduction of natural gas in electric generation by 50%; increased local annual revenues of $1.5 billion; creation of approximately 500,000 jobs.
20% from Wind Power by 2030
Furman claimed that the biggest constraint in the US reaching the milestone of generating 20% of its electric production through wind power by 2030—a figure the US Department of Energy says is achievable—is limitations in the transmission system.
via :: AWEA
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