WIRES study shows that regulatory challenges are preventing investment in the Smart Grid

Source: NEMA

Jun 06, 2011

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) reiterated its call for policymakers to take action to support the development of the nation’s electric transmission infrastructure, in light of a new study released by WIRES (Working Group for Investment in Reliable and Economic Electric Systems).

Findings from the study indicate that an annual investment in new electric transmission facilities could reach $12 to $16 billion in the U.S. According to the study, this would result in $30 to $40 billion in annual economic activity could create 150,000 to 200,000 new full-time jobs in the U.S. in each of the next 20 years.

The study highlights what NEMA and the electroindustry has long known: regulatory challenges and other barriers are preventing investment in the Smart Grid, leaving huge numbers of new jobs on the table. NEMA has outlined the long and arduous process of gaining approval for and beginning construction on new transmission facilities in its brochure Siting Transmission Corridors — A Real Life Game of Chutes and Ladders.

The brochure first addresses  transmission planning and cost allocation, followed by the federal agency approval process, environmental impact statements, state utility commission review, and right-of-way attainment. Only after all these requirements and more are met is it submitted to federal agencies for approval of construction. None of these steps is particularly easy, and approval of a new transmission line can take more than a decade, if it gets approved at all.