Powering Change



Electrical transmission lines are energy highways, transporting large amounts of electricity from generation sources like wind or solar farms to areas of concentrated load where it is used by customers. Once electricity reaches a load center, smaller distribution lines deliver it to residential and commercial customers for individual consumption. Transmission grids operate as real-time interconnected systems, moving electricity almost instantaneously on all available paths, which requires a great deal of coordination, monitoring, and regulation to ensure a reliable network that keeps the lights on for customers.

The United States' transmission grid is comprised of hundreds of thousands of miles of interconnected transmission lines of different lengths and voltages. However, very little new transmission has been built in the last 20 years, and the current system continues to become more and more congested as demand for electricity increases with population growth.

Although public policy continues to encourage the development of renewable energy resources, it is becoming more difficult to reliably deliver electricity to load, as the nation's best renewable resources are often located in remote areas with limited transmission infrastructure to transport the electricity.

Fortunately, legislators and energy regulators have recognized the need for an improved electrical transmission system to maintain system reliability and fulfill renewable energy usage requirements, and are enacting laws and regulations to encourage the development and construction of new transmission lines throughout North America, both by traditional utilities as well as by independent transmission developers such as RES Americas.

It is estimated that approximately $50 billion in transmission investments will be required over the next 10-15 years to satisfy current state-level renewable energy usage requirements (usually known as Renewable Portfolio Standards, or RPS). Furthermore, were the federal government to enact a nationwide RPS of 20%, transmission investment needs would increase to approximately $100 billion, not including baseline upgrades needed for system reliability.

Consumers will benefit directly from these investments in several ways. The benefits of a more robust grid include improved safety and reliability, lower wholesale electricity costs, and reduced environmental pollution due to the integration of renewable resources with the existing generation sources we have today. Improvements to the grid will also allow transmission operators to more efficiently manage the grid, bringing cost savings to electricity users across the country.

In addition, investing in transmission infrastructure will create thousands of jobs related to the manufacturing of transmission components such as towers and wires, the development and construction of transmission lines, and the long-term operation of the grid.