Renewable integration into the US transmission network

Investments amounting to approximately $50 billion will have to be made over the next 15 years in order to integrate renewable energy into the US transmission network under the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).

The RPS regulation obliges power utilities to guarantee that an increasing share of renewable energy will be included in their supplies. At present, 35 of the 50 US States have adopted it, with different requirements: for instance, the RPS issued by California set a 33% share by 2020 (meaning that in 2020, 33% of electricity consumption must be met by renewable sources), Maine’s is 40% by 2017, Maryland’s is 9.5% by 2022, etcetera.

The estimates regarding the expenditure were provided by the Brattle Group, which calculated that the investments needed to observe the present RPS level range between 40 and 70 billion dollars. If current renewable penetration targets were to increase by 20%, the total investment required for their integration into the network would amount to $100 billion, or even more.

Without these investments – said the Principal of Brattle Johannes Pfeifenberger – US transmission capabilities will be insufficient to allow for the integration of enough renewable power sources to meet the RPS requirements.

The uncertainty over cost recovery of such considerable investments – Pfeifenberger added – is presently the main barrier to making the investment.