The electric transmission system is a marvel of engineering that has powered our growth for more than half a century. Today, the grid is aging—becoming less reliable and less capable of meeting our 21st century needs for abundant, inexpensive renewable energy. Outdated regulations governing the grid have not kept pace with our national goals and have been a hurdle to building the grid we need.
A renewable energy smart grid will make electricity cleaner by building transmission to our nation’s vast but remote renewable resources. A smarter grid—with full communications capabilities and operational controls at all levels—will make the electric system more reliable, secure, and efficient. Our national grid is evolving from a large number of smaller, local grids. These largely independent, though increasingly interconnected, grids must do more to communicate and coordinate with each other, not only to keep the lights on, but also to plan for future system needs. We need national goals, and corresponding policy tools to plan, pay for, and site interstate transmission facilities to get the maximum amount of cost-effective and clean renewable energy to consumers.
We need to make the grid:
Bigger: Bolster our transmission system to bring renewable energy resources—like wind in the Great Plains and solar in the desert Southwest—to the population centers that need them.
Smarter: Broadly deploy "smart grid" technologies to make the grid more reliable, resilient, and secure, and enable much greater energy efficiency for consumers and businesses.
Better Integrated: Elevate planning, siting, and cost-allocation processes from the state and local level to a regional level with input from all stakeholders.
The Energy Future Coalition launched Americans for a Clean Energy Grid in 2009. The Initiative was an outcome of the Coalition’s Clean Energy Smart Grid Vision Statement, which was drafted with input from a broad group of stakeholders. The vision statement calls for the United States to:
Develop New Regional Transmission Plans to Bring Renewable Power to Market. Congress should enable the grid to maximize the development of domestic renewable energy by linking resources to population centers. Congress should establish a new process within the two multi-state power systems that cover the entire country (except Texas, Alaska, and Hawaii) to plan, site, and recover the costs for transmission.
Create New Incentives for Investments in Smart Grid Technologies. Congress should increase funding for demonstration projects and provide tax breaks for smart grid investments.
Make Grid Security a Priority. Congress should ensure that new grid investments and technologies make our power system safer and more secure. A smart grid is more adaptive and self-healing and can better manage electricity flows, which helps safeguard our electric power system from attacks and natural disasters.
Smart Grid Resources