WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 28, 2020) – Today Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) released their report “Consumer, Employment, and Environmental Benefits of Electricity Transmission Expansion in the Eastern United States” which finds that expanding and modernizing the transmission grid in the region will access low-cost, remote renewable energy and create millions of jobs, lower electricity bills, and deliver large reductions in carbon and other air pollutants.

“Just as the Eisenhower interstate highway system unleashed U.S. manufacturing in the 20th Century, a strong macro grid will deliver massive economic and public health benefits for all Americans in the 21st Century,” said Rob Gramlich, Executive Director of ACEG. “Removing policy roadblocks to building the macro grid would yield up to $7.8 trillion in private infrastructure investment, create over 6 million jobs, save consumers over $100 billion, and cut carbon pollution from electricity more than 80 percent. The macro grid is a win for American workers, consumers, and public health.”

The study, which examines varying levels of renewable energy deployment and carbon dioxide emission reduction in the Eastern Interconnect, finds that transmission investment will:

  • Reduce electric sector carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 65 percent by 2035, and by over 95 percent by 2050 and reduce other harmful air pollutants across the region.
  • Create over 6 million net new jobs, increasing electric sector employment over 5-fold from around 1.3 million to over 7.5 million jobs by 2050. The new jobs are broadly spread across the Eastern U.S. Investment in transmission alone drives over 1.5 million new jobs.
  • Save more than $100 billion overall and cut the typical household electricity bill more than $300 per year. Transmission decreases the average electric rate by more than one-third, from over 9 cents/kWh today to around 6 cents/kWh by 2050,. These savings are broadly shared by all consumers across the region. The cost of transmission accounts for only 3.6 percent of total electricity costs on average in the strong carbon reduction cases. Transmission yielded savings many times greater than that by providing access to low-cost renewable resources and increasing the overall efficiency of the power system.
  • Obtain over 80 percent of its electricity from wind and solar by 2050.
  • Deliver reliable power by meeting electricity demand in every 5-minute period of the year, even with wind and solar providing 82% of electricity in 2050 in the strong carbon policy cases.

“We need a stronger transmission grid to deliver the world-class renewable resources that are currently stranded in rural areas to population centers,” said report co-author and Grid Strategies LLC Vice President Michael Goggin. “Connecting rural and urban areas with transmission will also make the grid more reliable, create jobs, lower consumer electric bills by one third, and deliver healthier air for all.”

Transmission overcomes a significant challenge in the U.S., which is that its world-class renewable energy resources – a critical climate change solution – are often located in remote, rural regions, far from urban areas where most electricity is used. According to the Wind Energy Foundation , the 15 states between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River account for 88 percent of America’s wind potential and 56 percent of its large-scale solar photovoltaic potential yet are home to only 30 percent of projected 2050 electricity use.

The study is also one of the first to find that wind, solar, storage, and transmission each play essential, unique, and complementary role in providing consumers with reliable and affordable electricity. Transmission and storage work together to balance the intermittent nature of wind and solar production, thus allowing renewable energy to deliver more than 80 percent of America’s electricity.

Additional Quotes on the Release of the Report:

Nina Plaushin, Vice President of Regulator and Federal Affairs, ITC Holdings Corp

“For years, ITC Holdings Corp. has been building large scale transmission that has created thousands of well-paying jobs and connected consumers to low-cost energy. This new report from Americans for a Clean Energy Grid not only highlights the benefits of modernizing and expanding large scale transmission but stresses the need for large infrastructure projects to continue to provide reliable jobs and energy to our local communities.”

Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE)

“This important new report documents that upgrading America’s transmission system pays for itself many times over. Through smart investments in transmission infrastructure, we can efficiently move renewable electricity to high-demand population centers, dramatically reducing both carbon emissions and consumer electricity costs, while supporting over a million new, high-quality American jobs.”

Christopher T.M. Clack, Founder and CEO, Vibrant Clean Energy LLC

“Transmission infrastructure is essential for the future of the Eastern US electricity system. To unlock a lower cost, more reliable, more efficient system more spending needs to flow to transmission; this, in turn, will unleash strong GDP growth, higher employment and cleaner air and water for all. This study confirms that for relatively little investment, transmission can dramatically change the future of electricity in the Eastern US for the better.”

Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO, Energy Storage Association

“We are pleased to see this study confirming the economic and environmental benefits of a clean energy portfolio while highlighting the central role that energy storage plays in power sector transformation. This study shows in great detail that the US can achieve ambitious decarbonization goals while ensuring that consumers enjoy affordable and reliable power under policies that expand renewable energy, transmission and storage capacity. With a significant buildout of transmission and high penetration of renewable energy, storage works well to ensure flexibility for a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable grid.”

Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association

“This analysis reinforces the recent conclusions of the U.S. Department of Energy Seams Study and continues to show that investing in transmission makes the entire American electric system more reliable, affordable, and resilient, while providing customers access to clean, low-cost renewable energy. Investments in transmission more than pay for themselves and will help American wind, solar, hydropower, and energy storage developers unleash an economic powerhouse in the East that can lead the region to a more prosperous, cleaner future.”

Tracy Warren, Director, Macro Grid Initiative

“As policymakers at the federal and state level plan how to meet ambitious energy goals, the modeling conducted by Clack and Goggin demonstrates that smart transmission investments will ensure those plans are cost-effective and serve the public interest.”

Sam Gomberg, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists 

“The US needs a transmission grid that is modern, robust and resilient in order to tackle the challenge of climate change and ultimately achieve a clean energy future. This study verifies that action to improve our transmission system helps the US reach key environmental and climate objectives, enables affordable access to renewable energy, and eliminates harmful air pollution all while unleashing a wave of economic opportunity.”

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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   

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