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ATC Released their 10 Year System Assessment. In a nutshell; Coal down, Renewables way up, Aging Infrastructure and Extreme Weather Still Concerning.

The summary in general seems to be typical across the U.S. transmission industry.

Excerpts from the Summary Report below.

"The generation mix is evolving from traditional fuels like nuclear, coal and natural gas to a growing reliance on sources of green energy including wind and solar. In fact, we have seen over 1,500 megawatts of coal generation retire in our footprint since the beginning of 2018; and we are studying proposals to connect over 5,800 MW of solar generation and almost 1,000 MW of wind generation."

"The combination of aging infrastructure and extreme weather can compromise the reliable, efficient operation of the existing transmission system."

The whole assessment can be found here.

Steve Beilstein's picture

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Oct 31, 2019 11:02 am GMT

"The combination of aging infrastructure and extreme weather can compromise the reliable, efficient operation of the existing transmission system."

This summary is anything but surprising, but the bigger question is whether anything will come from it. Do you see utilities, regulators, and policymakers prioritizing updating infrastructure? Perhaps the PG&E fiasco is (silver lining) drumming up attention on all aspects of the utility sector and the need to invest more intelligently now. An ounce of prevention vs. a pound of cure, as they say

Steve Beilstein's picture
Steve Beilstein on Nov 1, 2019 7:56 pm GMT

Matt, I do regularly see utilities ongoing efforts to continuously maintain and improve their facilities in addition to developing the new facilities required for accessing and delivering new resources.  It will always be a struggle to compromise and  determine the best place to put the finances. But as can be seen in a very extreme example with PG&E trying to keep up with this maintenance effort can be very difficult, especially with extreme weather events and conditions increasing every year.  If you look at how the recent Getty Fire in LA started, it was from vegetation blowing into an LADWP line from a eucalyptus tree more than 25 feet away (way beyond typical electrical clearance requirements for that line).  Trying to maintain power lines in potential high risk areas would likely result in another outcome of either expensive underground options, insulated overhead conductors (for lower voltage), or large vegetation clearing programs which would not likely be publicly acceptable.  These expenses are passed on to the rate payers and have to be approved by the CPUC. But I do believe the issues that California is currently experiencing is not out of apathy, or ignorance, but of limited resources in the face of extreme conditions. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer. I would whole heartedly agree with you that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and I think I would have to ask the same thing in a different way. Why is it so hard to pay for the ounce of prevention in the first place?

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Nov 1, 2019 9:29 pm GMT

Why is it so hard to pay for the ounce of prevention in the first place?

Kicking the can down the line is too easy when the consequences aren't totally visible. I'm hoping a silver lining of this whole CA situation can be that these impacts are no longer theoretical, but there's B-roll filled with it in the media that will force people and decision-makers to pay attention

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