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Transmission upgrades and backup power supplies will be charged to consumers

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Transmission upgrades and backup power supplies will be charged to consumers

Bedzak, 12 - president of Management Information Services Inc (Rocger, PUBLIC UTILITIES FORTNIGHTLY, “Not-So-Green Superhighway; Unforeseen consequences of dedicated renewable energy transmission” February, lexis)
Coincident with the construction of the transmission and RE plants must be the addition of backup power supplies, n4 firm demand-response capacity, or both. If those resource additions are delayed, then the RE power generated might have difficulty accessing markets, because large quantities of widely varying electric power from wind and solar facilities might exceed the ability of existing power grids to accommodate.

The costs of backup power resources, as well as the new transmission capacity, ultimately will be charged to power consumers. The capacity of the transmission lines needed to move RE power must be sized to at least the nameplate capacity of the RE technologies, if the maximum amount of RE power is to reach markets. However, the average capacity factor of, for example, wind in the Great Plains is less than 40 percent, which means that more than 60 percent of the transmission capacity would be unused, resulting in much higher transmission costs than if the lines were more fully loaded. Locating backup power generating capacity near RE sites can make greater use of transmission capacity and reduce cost penalties.

In principle, once the approximate number of miles of required new transmission is estimated, the total cost can be projected by multiplying by the average cost per mile. Unfortunately, transmission costs per mile vary greatly (see Figure 2). Most of the new RE transmission will be through rural or semi-rural areas, but as transmission lines approach major load centers costs will escalate rapidly.

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