EEI: Record money spent in 2013 on transmission and distribution projects

WASHINGTON (January 8, 2015) – Investor-owned electric utilities and stand-alone transmission companies invested a record $37.7 billion in transmission and distribution infrastructure in 2013, according to new survey results released today by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI). The latest EEI Annual Property & Plant Capital Investment Survey reveals that the industry’s capital expenditures on transmission totaled $16.9 billion in 2013—a 14.2-percent increase over the $14.8 billion that the industry invested in 2012.

Electric utilities attribute the increased transmission investment to several key factors, including new technologies for improved system reliability, development of new infrastructure to ease congestion, interconnection of new sources of generation (including renewable resources), and support for production of shale gas. Projected transmission investment also continued to climb in 2014 and included significant expansion and fundamental improvements to integrate new resources and increase system hardening, resiliency and security. The projected level of annual transmission investment remains significantly higher than previous periods.

The EEI survey also found investment in electric distribution infrastructure in 2013 totaled $20.8 billion—a 3.5-percent increase over the $20.1 billion invested in 2012. The increased distribution level capital expenditures were largely linked to storm hardening and improved system reliability, including undergrounding infrastructure. 

“The electric power industry continues to make record investments in transforming the electric grid to ensure the delivery of safe, reliable and affordable electricity for the benefit of all customers,” said EEI President Tom Kuhn. “The industry’s significant investments will help to improve reliability and enable the continued integration of renewable and other technologies onto the grid. In order to sustain this high level of investment, it is essential that the industry continues to be able to earn a return on equity that is commensurate with the high level of risk associated with many of these investments.”

Source Notes

The EEI Annual Property & Plant Capital Investment Survey measures historical capital expenditures on electric transmission and distribution infrastructure by investor-owned utilities, but does not include expenditures for operations, maintenance, or the acquisition of existing utility systems or segments.

The EEI Transmission Capital Budget and Forecast Survey was developed at the direction of the EEI CEO Transmission Working Group. The primary objective of the survey is to collect planned budgeted investments in electric transmission infrastructure over a five-year horizon in a manner that complements information collected on the EEI Property & Plant Capital Investment Survey.

All dollars are nominal unless otherwise noted.