U.S. DOE Releases Final National Transmission Needs Study

Source: U.S. Department of Energy

On October 30, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy released the final version of the National Transmission Needs Study (Needs Study). The Needs Study is an assessment of existing data and current and near-term future transmission needs through 2040. The Needs Study is an assessment of publicly available information and more than 120 recently published reports that consider historic and anticipated future needs given a range of electricity demand, public policy, and market conditions. The Needs Study serves as DOE’s triennial state of the grid report and fulfills a Congressional requirement to conduct assessments of national electric transmission capacity constraints and congestion not less frequently than once every 3 years. Key findings include:

  1. There is a pressing need for additional transmission infrastructure. Nearly all regions in the United States would gain improved reliability and resilience from additional transmission investments. Some regions have acute reliability and resilience needs which additional transmission deployment can address. Areas of several regions endure consistently high prices, most notably in the Plains, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New York, and California. Additional transmission to bring cost-effective generation to demand in these high-priced locations would help lower prices. Regions with historically high levels of within-region congestion — the Northwest, Mountain, Texas, and New York regions in particular — as well as regions with unscheduled flows that pose reliability risks — California, Northwest, Mountain, and Southwest regions — need additional, strategically placed transmission deployment to reduce this congestion.
  2. Increasing interregional transmission results in the largest benefits. Historically, the largest benefit in new interregional transfer capacity additions is between the three interconnections – between the Mountain and Plains, Texas and Delta, Southwest and Texas, and the Plains and Texas regions. Large interregional transmission benefit is also found between the Plains and Midwest and between the Plains and Delta regions.
  3. Needs will shift over time. The clean energy transformation, evolving regional demand, and increasingly extreme weather events must all be accommodated by the future power grid. Significant within-region transmission deployment is needed as soon as 2030 in the Plains, Midwest, and Texas regions. By 2040, large deployments will also be needed in the Mountain, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions. The same is true for interregional transmission deployment. In 2030 large relative deployments are needed between the Delta and Plains, Midwest and Plains, and between the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. By 2040 there is a significant need for new interregional transmission between nearly all regions.

The full report can be found here. An informational webinar reviewing the results of the Needs Study will be held on November 8, 2023 at 1:00 p.m. EST. Registration is required.