Economists at The Brattle Group have recently prepared a report for the Working Group for Investment in Reliable and Economic Electric Systems (WIRES) that reviews the Phase I study of the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC).
The EIPC effort is an unprecedented analysis covering the entire Eastern Interconnection and provides a study of the elements that will contribute to the rational development of the grid, as well as a way to view the grid operations of multiple entities across a substantial electric interconnection. A stakeholder-driven process, EIPC informs industry experts, state regulators, and other stakeholders on the factors that must be considered in developing a 21st century grid, taking into account numerous challenges such as environmental regulations and coal plant retirements that transmission development will face in the coming decades. The Brattle report reviews Phase I of the EIPC study and assesses the strengths and limitations of EIPC’s work. The Phase I effort focused on the changing profile of electric generation, rather than transmission, and documented transmission congestion. Sensitivity studies were conducted to identify transmission expansion opportunities between regions and “super” regions that would reduce congestion to 75% and 25% of the base levels. Overall, the report found that up to 122 GW of new transmission may be needed to address congestion between regions and super regions. Given the inherent limitations of a first-of-its-kind, stakeholder-based study spanning the entire Eastern Interconnection, the Brattle report also suggests possible next steps for follow-on analyses. Phase II, already underway, will address transmission needs to reliably accommodate generation additions and retirements identified in Phase I. Follow-on analyses will be needed to evaluate whether additional transmission between regions or super regions is desirable for congestion relief and other transmission-related benefits, the report points out.
The report was prepared by Brattle principals Hannes Pfeifenberger and Peter Fox-Penner, and associate Delphine Hou. It is available for download below.