New Program Promotes Investment in 21st Century Transmission Infrastructure to Enhance Reliability, Improve Efficiency and Deliver More Low-Cost Clean Energy
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) and Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) today launched the Macro Grid Initiative to build support for expanding and upgrading the nation’s transmission network. A 21st century Macro Grid will deliver jobs and economic development, a cleaner environment, and lower costs for consumers.
“We need to improve America’s outdated and balkanized electricity transmission system both to compete effectively in the 21st century economy and to properly tackle the climate crisis,” said ACORE President and CEO Gregory Wetstone. “A Macro Grid will allow for better integration of low-cost renewable energy, resulting in a more resilient, efficient grid and a dramatic reduction in carbon emissions.”
Upgrading America’s transmission system is a cost-effective way to alleviate transmission congestion and better integrate new generation. Renewable energy growth continues to accelerate as a result of competitive prices, greater demand from corporate and residential consumers, and ambitious state renewable energy programs.
Thanks to generous support from Breakthrough Energy, an organization founded by Bill Gates that is working to expand clean energy investment and innovation, the Macro Grid Initiative will undertake wide-ranging educational efforts in support of transmission expansion to connect areas with low-cost renewable resources to centers of high electric demand. This can be accomplished by connecting grid regions like MISO, PJM and SPP.
Several recent studies have already shown the immense benefits of expanding the nation’s transmission grid. For example:
- Expanding and upgrading interregional transmission lines would help electric utilities, corporate and institutional buyers, and other consumers meet carbon and clean energy goals by affordably and reliably integrating low-cost renewable resources. Enhanced transmission will also facilitate increased electrification and ensure grid reliability in the face of new patterns of electricity demand.
- Increasing transmission development at the “seams” between regions could save consumers more than $47 billion and return more than $2.50 for every dollar invested.
- A nationwide, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) network optimized for the nation’s best wind and solar resources could deliver 80 percent carbon emission reductions from the grid by 2030 without adding costs to consumers’ electric bills.
“We believe every supporter of clean energy should be a supporter of a stronger backbone transmission grid,” said Rob Gramlich, ACEG’s Executive Director. “Americans for a Clean Energy Grid looks forward to working with ACORE to explain to the public and policymakers why that is the case, and to build support for its development.”
Achieving the Macro Grid vision will require new policies at the federal, regional and state levels that recognize the substantial nationwide benefits of an interregionally connected transmission network.
To learn more about the Macro Grid Initiative and how to join the coalition of supporters, go to https://acore.org/macro-grid-initiative/.
Additional Quotes on the Importance of the Macro Grid Initiative:
Jeffrey Clark, President, Advanced Power Alliance:
“Growing and rebuilding our nation’s economy will rely on cleaner, cheaper power to drive American industry and commerce. Transmission infrastructure is key to delivering that power to the industries and communities that need it. APA is proud to be a partner in this effort to expand our electric grids, and to build the advanced power delivery systems on which America can rely.”
Larry Gasteiger, Executive Director, WIRES:
“The overarching vision of the Macro Grid Initiative – to expand and upgrade the nation’s transmission network – will generate jobs and stimulate economic development, hasten clean energy integration and ultimately, lower energy costs for consumers. Equally important, the Initiative’s effort can help advocate for more strategic planning of transmission infrastructure and encourage leadership and a sense of urgency by national and state policymakers.”
Devin Hartman, Director of Energy and Environmental Policy, R Street Institute:
“Emerging economic and policy conditions warrant a massive amount of transmission development in the next couple decades. It will be critical for transmission policy reforms to reduce barriers to development, improve planning processes and squeeze more efficiency out of existing infrastructure. The vision of the Macro Grid Initiative is right on point by aligning transmission development with economic, environmental and consumer outcomes.”
Jim Hoecker, Former FERC Chairman; Co-Founder and Counsel, NEMA’s Rail Electrification Council; Founder, WIRES:
“In this transformative and turbulent period, the nation cannot afford to neglect innovation and investment in a clean, economically efficient, and market-driven energy future. Unless an integrated, inter-regional transmission grid can be established, much of our best renewable energy will remain inaccessible to consumers and industry and the anticipated growth in the use of electricity for transportation will not be met. Overcoming the barriers to siting long-line transmission facilities is a critical task before us and new industry partnerships will be key. We support this “breakthrough” initiative as a refreshing recognition of a frequently unrecognized need.”
Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):
“When we think about the clean energy transformation we must make over the next decade, our 100-year old grid certainly isn’t supporting a productive vision. Solar can play a major part in our economic recovery. Infrastructure investments to modernize our grid and support transmission, could help us quickly and securely bring solar energy to communities. This initiative could spur billions of dollars in private development and get us closer to our goal of supplying 20% of U.S. electricity generation from solar by 2030.”
Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA):
“Fostering a dedicated effort to upgrade and expand on our country’s current transmission infrastructure is the next step in realizing the potential of a majority clean energy grid of the future. An expanded, more sophisticated and technologically advanced grid will better support the modernizations and innovations of the fast-advancing pan-renewable industry. AWEA is proud to stand with our clean energy colleagues on addressing this long-held priority of the wind industry and we applaud Breakthrough Energy for taking on the challenge of solving this ongoing issue that will ultimately lead to providing consumers and businesses with more stable and reliable clean power, benefitting both the environment and American’s wallets.”
Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists:
“An essential need for our society is a modernized electric grid to deliver clean, safe and reliable power, particularly as we shift our workplaces from central offices to our homes. A second essential need is to put millions of Americans back to work. Upgrading our nation’s aging and creaky transmission network will address both of these needs, and is one of the best investments we can make right now.”
Gina McCarthy, President and CEO, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC):
“To respond to the challenge of climate change, we need ambitious investments in our electrical grid. Solar, wind and other renewable energy sources are booming, moving us toward a carbon-free future. But we need a way to connect all this clean energy to our homes. Modernizing our outdated transmission network will create jobs, grow our economy – and allow responsibly sited, cleaner energy to thrive.”
Ric O’Connell, Executive Director, GridLab:
“Significant new transmission infrastructure allows remote and variable resources to serve consumers across wide areas, reducing prices and providing strong resilience benefits to states and communities.”
Nina Plaushin, ACEG Board Chair; Vice President of Regulatory & Federal Affairs, ITC Holdings Corp.:
“Transmission is critical to facilitating a clean energy future. ITC looks forward to working with Americans for a Clean Energy Grid and ACORE to support expanding regional and interregional transmission through the Macro Grid Initiative.”
Michael Skelly, Founder, Clean Line Energy Partners; Senior Advisor, Lazard:
“Building out our grid brings jobs, efficient markets, and cheaper and cleaner power. No individual or company can do this alone. But together with a broad public and policy maker consensus I have no doubt it can and will be done. I’m excited to see ACORE and ACEG’s Macro Grid Initiative take on this important effort.”
Beth Soholt, Executive Director, Clean Grid Alliance:
“The United States is in an extraordinary time of innovation and change in the electric industry with utilities, states and corporations leading the way in shaping the new energy economy. Along with the change goes the need to keep our electric transmission grid strong, resilient and able to meet current and future needs such as load growth from electric vehicles. Grid operators like the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) are hard at work transforming the integrated generation/transmission system and market rules to satisfy the changing requirements. Clean Grid Alliance is thrilled to partner with ACORE on important work to create the grid of the future.”
Jason Walsh, Executive Director, BlueGreen Alliance:
“Modernizing our electrical grid and upgrading our nation’s transmission network is an opportunity to create new, good-paying jobs for workers across our nation. Transmission projects generally utilize Project Labor Agreements, which set the ground rules for projects between workers and employers to ensure good wages and safe working conditions. Transforming the grid will ensure we can move cleaner energy throughout our nation and reduce the emissions driving climate change.”
Jon Wellinghoff, Former FERC Chairman; CEO, GridPolicy Inc.:
“A robust, integrated, intercontinental electric transmission grid is essential for this country to decarbonize our electric sector and to enable decarbonization of our transportation sector. Without it, this nation cannot hope to do its part to address the global climate crisis which faces us all. The Macro Grid Initiative, led by ACORE and Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, is critical to the development of such a grid system necessary for a sustainable world.”
Pat Wood III, Former FERC Chairman; Former Chairman of the Public Utility Commission of Texas; CEO, Hunt Energy Network:
“We learned in the 2000-2001 California/Western power collapse and the 2003 North American power blackout that power markets REQUIRE robust infrastructure. Today, that means strong electrical ties between and across all the power regions. I welcome the refreshed focus on this issue: without a strong national power grid, we won’t come anywhere close to the low-cost, low-carbon grid customers demand — and deserve.”
About Macro Grid Initiative:
The Macro Grid Initiative is a joint effort of the American Council on Renewable Energy and Americans for a Clean Energy Grid to promote investment in a 21st century transmission infrastructure that enhances reliability, improves efficiency and delivers more low-cost clean energy. The Initiative works closely with the American Wind Energy Association, the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Advanced Power Alliance and the Clean Grid Alliance to advance our shared goals. To learn more, visit https://acore.org/macro-grid-initiative/. Follow the Macro Grid Initiative on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Founded in 2001, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is the nation’s premier pan-renewable organization uniting finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy. For more information, please visit www.acore.org.
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) is the only non-profit broad-based public interest advocacy coalition focused on the need to expand, integrate, and modernize the North American high-voltage grid. ACEG brings together the diverse support for an expanded and modernized grid from business, labor, consumer and environmental groups, and other transmission supporters to support policy which recognizes the benefits of a robust transmission grid. For more information, please visit cleanenergygrid.org.