• Reduced need for new transmission lines because systems could be operated more efficiently.

  • Improved reliability and more rapid recovery from system disturbances.

  • Ability to accommodate an expanded generation base, especially from intermittent wind and solar energy and from generation sources that are located at a distance from load-demand centers, which would help meet projected growth in future demand and deliver power to areas where it is needed.

  • Ability to provide real-time electricity price information that could motivate consumers to use electricity more efficiently, thereby moderating future growth in electricity demand.

Some near-term expansion and modernization options include the deployment of modern power electronics and sensors, advanced control technologies, higher-capacity conductors, dispatchable energy storage, and other “smart” technologies.15 Over the long term, new power storage and load-management strategies must be developed to accommodate the intermittent nature of solar and wind power.

The technologies needed to modernize and, where necessary, expand the transmission and distribution system are largely available now. Installing these technologies concurrently—that is, expanding and modernizing these systems simultaneously—would offer substantial cost savings. The committee estimates (see Chapter 9) that it would cost (in 2007 dollars) $175 billion for expansion and $50 billion for modernization of the transmission system when they are done concurrently, compared to $175 billion for expansion and $105 billion for modernization when done separately—a cost savings of $55 billion with simultaneous expansion and modernization. The committee also estimates that it would cost $470 billion for expansion and $170 billion for modernization of the distribution system when they are done concurrently, compared to $470 billion for expansion and $365 billion for modernization when done separately—a cost savings of $195 billion.

15

That is, technologies that allow the transmission and distribution systems to rapidly and automatically adjust to changing conditions without the need for human intervention.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement