EEI: Member utilities plan to spend at least $64bn on transmission through 2022

The Edison Electric Institute said April 20 that according to its new report, “Transmission Projects: At a glance,” its member electric utility companies plan to spend at least $64bn – nominal dollars – on expected transmission system improvements through 2022.

The investment, EEI said, will be in addition to the approximately $77bn that its member companies invested in transmission infrastructure improvements between 2001 and 2010, in 2010 real dollars.

The report presents an overview of each EEI member company that was surveyed, along with information on their representative project.

A minimum project investment threshold of $50m for transmission system projects was applied to the selection of projects included in the report, EEI added. However, a lower threshold of $20m was applied for transmission supporting the integration of renewable resources and a $10m investment threshold was applied to any smart grid projects that an EEI member chose to present, EEI said.

The sixth annual publication of the report presents various projects that EEI’s members completed, or expected to complete, in 2011, or have planned for the next 10 years. The report also highlights EEI members’ focus on needed transmission investment.

EEI also said that investment in the country’s transmission infrastructure has increased over the past several years in response to various needs, including reliability and generator interconnection.

While the increasing demands for new transmission and system upgrades will continue to drive transmission investments in the long term, near-term planned transmission investment is affected by current economic conditions indicated by lower rate of demand growth. Coupled with recent completion and/or delay of major transmission projects, EEI also said it projects a flattening or possible decrease in transmission investment through 2014, as compared to the projected 2012 level.

However, the projected figures for 2011-2014 are higher than the actual 2010 transmission investment level, and are a sign of a continuing increase in transmission investment by EEI’s members.

EEI also said that investment in needed transmission is supported, in part, by several developments in federal and state policies affecting transmission infrastructure, including the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and federal transmission pricing policies being implemented by FERC. Furthermore, the U.S. Department of Energy and nine other federal agencies are working together to improve the overall quality and timeliness of transmission permitting and review by federal agencies.

The report emphasizes broad categories of transmission investments that are subcategories of the total transmission system investments included in the report, namely, interstate transmission projects, transmission supporting the integration of renewable resources, transmission required for system reliability needs and transmission projects developed by multiple project partners.

Among the projects highlighted in the report that were placed in service in 2011 is the Trans-Allegheny Interstate Line (TrAIL) project, which, according to TransmissionHub data, is a 165-mile, 500-kV line that originates at 502 Junction, Pa., and terminates at Loudoun, Va. The project, sponsored by FirstEnergy (NYSE:FE) subsidiary Allegheny Energy, improves system reliability, east-west transfer capability and growing electric demand.

In total, EEI members invested $10.2bn in 2010, EEI said, adding that its member companies plan to invest an additional approximately $54bn in the transmission system from 2012 to 2014.

Other projects included in the report include the more than $1.2bn Grand Rivers Projects by Ameren Transmission Company, which is the transmission development subsidiary of Ameren (NYSE:AEE). The Grand Rivers Projects consist of three new transmission projects in Illinois and Missouri consisting of more than 490 miles of 345-kV transmission lines. These projects are named Illinois Rivers, Mark Twain and Spoon River. The Grand Rivers Projects were designated as multi-value projects as part of the $6bn of transmission investment included in the 2011 Midwest ISO (MISO) transmission expansion plan that was approved by the MISO board of directors in December 2011.

EEI also noted that American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP) is continuing its efforts to develop an extra high-voltage interstate transmission superhighway. Furthermore, the company maintains its focus on forming joint ventures with several utilities to build transmission in regions across the country, including RITELine Transmission Development, which is a joint venture between AEP, Electric Transmission America and Exelon (NYSE:EXC) to develop high-voltage transmission projects in the PJM Interconnection region.

The Reliability Inter-regional Transmission Extension (RITE) Line consists of about 420 miles of 765-kV transmission line linking AEP’s proposed Blue Creek with Pioneer Transmission’s stations in Ohio and Indiana with Exelon’s Pontiac, Kewanee, Collins, Nelson and Byron stations south and west of Chicago. The project is estimated to cost $1.6bn and FERC issued an order in October 2011 granting incentives for the project and accepting a formula rate. PJM is evaluating the project.

Between 2001 and 2010, AEP invested about $3.9bn into its transmission system, EEI added.

Also included in the report was American Transmission Company’s approximately $425m Badger Coulee project, which consists of about 150 miles of new single-circuit, 345-kV transmission line from La Crosse into the greater Madison area of Wisconsin. ATC tentatively plans to file an application with Wisconsin state regulators in 2013. If approved, construction would begin in 2016 to meet an in-service date of 2017, EEI added.

Among the transmission projects supporting the integration of renewable resources, EEI listed the CapX2020 Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse project, which according to TransmissionHub, is sponsored by Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) and involves about 125 miles of 345-kV transmission line and about 15- to 18 miles of 161-kV line.

Among other things, EEI also noted that transmission projects developed by multiple project partners include the Susquehanna-Roseland project, which, according to TransmissionHub, was approved by Pennsylvania and New Jersey state regulators in 2010. The purpose of the 145-mile, 500-kV project is to improve reliability. The National Park Service recently chose the route preferred by PPL (NYSE:PPL) subsidiary PPL Electric Utilities and Public Service Enterprise Group (NYSE:PEG) subsidiary Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) for the project.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3270 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 16 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.