developing, implementing, and integrating advanced technologies should be part of the standards.

  • There are no clear guidelines for measuring progress toward T&D modernization, particularly regarding societal benefits. Such guidelines can help each state’s PUC to analyze the overall economics and determine the merits of modernizing its T&D system.

  • Cultural and communications. Active public opposition stemming from environmental or cost concerns could form a barrier to construction of new transmission lines.

Integrating renewables: Renewable-electricity sources present additional challenges for the T&D system:

  • To integrate renewable sources such as wind and solar on a large scale, the transmission system will need to accommodate their variability. This objective can be met with backup generation (such as gas-fired power plants) or by large-scale storage technologies, such as compressed air energy storage (CAES). Backup generation or CAES could be deployed before 2020.

  • Many renewables are likely to be deployed as distributed generation (such as rooftop PV panels), which will require two-way power flow capability.

  • Transmitting power from high-quality renewable resources to population centers creates economic challenges. These challenges include securing the rights of way for the needed corridors and making a business case for the transmission lines.

R&D: Many of the technologies needed to modernize the grid are available now, but additional R&D is needed to reduce costs to encourage more rapid deployment. In addition, the current level of R&D investment is inadequate for developing new technologies that may be needed to meet future challenges (such as enabling a broad systems approach to managing the network). The level of technology research, development, and deployment in the U.S. power industry is quite modest compared to other industries. In particular, the current level of R&D funding for the nation’s T&D system is at an all-time low. University power-engineering programs have been badly hurt by low R&D funding, and the lack of graduates qualified to manage the future of the grid is becoming a serious issue.

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