A Transmission Backbone: It’s The Key To Our Energy Future

Transmission is the key to unlocking our renewable energy future
Apr 28, 2015 4:00 PM ET

An op-ed from Rudy Wynter, president of National Grid’s federally regulated businesses, about the need for electric and natural gas transmission infrastructure investments was published in TransmissionHub. Here’s the full article as it appears on the TransmissionHub website.

EPA’s new Clean Power Plan has not surprisingly generated a significant amount of discussion and debate. National Grid believes the EPA plan would accelerate the transformation already underway in making our energy sources and usage as clean and efficient as they can be, while keeping costs manageable for customers. We applaud EPA Administrator McCarthy and her team for driving the clean energy debate forward.

Rudy Wynter, president of National Grid’s federally regulated businesses

This initiative, which is critical to our collective economic, environmental and public health, aligns with National Grid’s work in the Northeast to advance renewables, increase energy efficiency and other demand-side reduction programs, and create a robust, resilient transmission backbone for our natural gas and electric delivery networks.

Having the right energy infrastructure in place is fundamental to our ability to transform our energy systems for the future, and a strong electricity and natural gas infrastructure will eliminate the risks and costs of transforming our energy systems.

Electric transmission investments are needed to integrate renewable generation resources, and to allow the electricity grid to withstand the retirement of older fossil-fuel generation resources.  Infrastructure improvements reduce the bottlenecks in the current delivery systems that raise energy prices and reduce reliability.

In some areas, such as New England, additional natural gas transmission infrastructure is needed to provide adequate supply to gas-fired generators that will enable critical power system balancing for intermittent renewable resources such as on- and off-shore wind.

Our energy grid is at a critical juncture, and our actions (or lack thereof) during the next few years will have massive implications for the security, reliability and sustainability of our clean energy future.

Transmission companies, the states, system operators and regional and national planning and reliability authorities must work together to ensure we build a grid of the future that is efficient, resilient, and that can deliver clean, cost effective energy to homes and businesses nationwide.

EPA also must recognize that a planning effort of this magnitude and getting the necessary projects built won’t happen overnight, so a realistic set of deadlines and timeframes will be critical to the success of its plan and to ensure that reliability won’t be at risk.

So how do we move the ball forward? It starts with constructive, reasoned dialogue around EPA’s Clean Power plan that includes input from a broad array of stakeholders, all of whom should advocate based on what’s best for the electricity consumer, the security of the nation’s energy networks and the environment.

The states and the industry must work together to foster open, transparent dialogue with consumers and communities on what’s needed and why, the costs and benefits and local impacts. Policymakers must ensure that a robust, coordinated planning process is developed along with streamlined siting and permitting processes, especially for multi-state projects with interregional benefits. We also need the right investment policies and regulatory recovery mechanisms in place to avoid having critical projects getting hung up in prolonged case-by-case battles.

And most importantly, states, regions and federal authorities must work together efficiently and effectively to make all of this a reality. It certainly won’t be easy, but we must make it a reality. Our clean and secure energy future depends on it.