The Case for New Transmission in the U.S.: Meeting the Need for Large-Scale Renewable Energy (2009)

Client Organization: 
American Wind Energy Association
Project Location : 
Ann Arbor, MI
Summary of Project Idea: 

The development of large-scale wind resources is currently hampered by the state of the transmission grid.  Because the most promising wind resources are often located in areas geographically distant from load centers, additional transmission lines must be built before resources can be utilized.  Currently, numerous efforts have been undertaken to compare the costs and benefits of new transmission investments.  However, these efforts do not always produce data that is easily transferred to policy makers and constituents.  In addition, such studies do not always consider other power generation options such as natural gas.

Using data gathered from the on-going Joint Coordinated System Plan and other current transmission planning efforts, the master's project team created a simplified model intended for use by policy makers.  This model identifies potential inflection points in which remote wind power plus transmission becomes cost competitive with natural gas plants.  A greater understanding of current cost factors will allow for the pursuit of a wind-friendly political agenda.  Also, due to the challenge of siting transmission lines through communities not benefiting from the produced power, a stakeholder analysis and potential benefit allocations will be discussed. 

SEAS Program Areas: 
Environmental Policy and Planning
Sustainable Systems
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Tom Lyon
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Laura Bruce, MBA/MS Environmental Policy & Planning
  • David Cieminis, MBA/MS Environmental Policy & Planning
  • Siobhan Doherty, MBA/MS Environmental Policy & Planning
  • Theodore Ludwick, MBA/MS Sustainable Systems
Project Status: 
Past Project