Electrical Transmission 101

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…..On Tuesday, electrical transmission and distribution experts gathered for what they termed “Electric Transmission 101”. Emphasized in the presentations were the system limitations faced by our electrical grid, as well as issues regarding generation, transmission, and supply. Currently, our electrical grid is lacking in many areas. It is inadequate to connect rich sources of renewable energy in the central U.S. and offshore to areas of high demand elsewhere. Because of the difficulty in rerouting electricity, there was a general emphasis by the speakers on the need to prioritize system planning and development.

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…..The United States is divided into three basic electrical regions. These include the Midwest and Eastern parts of the country, Texas, and West of the Rocky Mountains. The two coasts, due to their high populations, consume the greatest amount of electricity and are particularly vulnerable to any problems in the grid. Blackouts and other grid problems typically arise from issues related to overheating, or disruptions in the system (high summer demand from AC units causing blackouts). Because each region is highly interconnected, structural failures have the potential to create widespread issues that affect millions.

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…..Jeff Dennis, Director of Policy Development at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said that a “robust national electrical system is key to competitive markets”. While the needs are nation-wide, the responsibility for planning, siting, and building the actual infrastructure often falls to state and local governments, further increasing the need for a more integrated system. Electricity prices are driven primarily by system costs, so if investment into our electrical infrastructure is increased, many users could actually see monthly bills fall as the system became more reliable.

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…..The needs faced by what Wayne Galli of Clean Line Energy Partners described as “the largest, most complex, machine ever designed by man” are great, but by investing in it now, we can provide stable energy at lower costs for decades to come.

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