Improved decision-support tools. Improved decision-support technologies could begin to be deployed before 2020; however, they will require the co-deployment of modern measurements, communications, and controls, as well as power electronics, to be effective. Further work is needed to develop and implement algorithms for rapid decision making and advanced search and optimization. This software is likely to be deployable before 2020.
Infrastructure. Shortages of trained personnel and needed equipment could form a barrier to modernization of the T&D system. In particular:
A growing global demand for T&D technologies (as nations such as China build up their infrastructures) and a decline in U.S. equipment designers and manufacturers may lead to short-term bottlenecks in acquiring needed equipment.
A significant shortage in the skilled T&D workforce over the next 5 to 10 years is expected unless efforts are instituted quickly to address this issue. The number of university programs in power engineering, as well as R&D support, has decreased markedly.
Transmission. The modernization of the transmission system will benefit greatly from a comprehensive national vision based on consensus among the many stakeholders. The transmission system is national in scale, and the major benefits of a modern system come from the operation of many technologies in concert across the entire system rather than from technologies deployed in isolation. State, regional, and national planning is needed on how the nation will deliver 20 percent of its energy and beyond from renewables, especially wind and solar. If such a vision is established and it addresses the many barriers to modernization, the transmission system could be modernized by 2030.
Distribution. Smart meters and related technologies can improve the efficiency and economics of distribution. Modernization of the distribution system can occur regionally, allowing for rapid parallel deployment while encouraging experimentation to develop best practices. This modernization is already occurring in limited areas; however, it would benefit from a nationwide consensus on best practices such as standardization of communication methods (to better enable smart meters) and