A new study commissioned by WIRES and authored by economists at The Brattle Group finds that new high-voltage transmission investments offer numerous potential benefits that have too often been disregarded as remote, intangible, or hard to estimate. The report urges planners and policy maker s to consider the full range of potential economic, reliability, environmental, and public policy benefits of new and upgraded transmission when evaluating which projects will serve customers and the economy best. For the first time, transmission planners and policy makers now have a catalogue of benefits and techniques for evaluation that they can employ in devising optimal regional development plans.

The Benefits of Electric Transmission: Identifying and Analyzing the Value of Investments, available on the WIRES Web site, is a comprehensive analysis that documents :

All potential economic, reliability, operational, and public policy benefits from expanding or upgrading the high voltage grid.

The evolving experience and existing practices of planners in RTO and non - RTO regi ons when determining those benefits and the beneficiaries of new transmission capacity.

How planners and policy makers can employ more systematic procedures and analysis to arrive at better transmis sion (and non - transmission) solutions.

  • Consider the following excerpts: “The transmission planning process and consideration of transmission - related benefits go hand in hand,” the study states. “ We have found that a successful approach . . . is to consider all the potential benefits . . . at the outset rather than getting bogged down in cost allocation debates and time - consuming market simulations. ”
  • Also, according to the study: “Planners may shy away from making investment decisions fearing that uncertain futures dramatically change the value of those investments and result in regrets. [This fear] leads to a perpetual focus on small incremental transmission upgrades . . . [that] forego opportunities to capture higher values” that come with serving “longer - term needs ”
  • “The consideration of long - term uncertainties . . . is important for developing robust transmission plans and investment strategies, valuing future investment options, and identifying ‘least regrets’ projects, ” the study declares.

“The economists and utility experts at The Brattle Group have provided planners and policy makers with something that they have lacked in almost every jurisdiction – a near - exhaustive catalogue of the benefits that transmission can provide and a practical way of bringing that understanding into the planning process,” said WIRES President Don Clevenger of Oncor. “WIRES commends this report to anyone interested in investing in a more economic and efficient grid for the benefit of electricity customers.”