Thoughts from a Post-Rocky Mountain Clean Energy Transmission Summit World

The Rocky Mountain Clean Energy Transmission Summit is behind us and what an event it was! Headlined by an impressive host of public and private sector leaders, journalists, and other energy and transmission experts, over 100 attendees participated in our Denver summit.

Owing to a remarkable array of perspectives and experiences, conversations covered many issues, offering unique solutions to though problems.

But one message seemed to carry over the rest—a message that moderator and Senior Editor at High Country News wrote about later in his article, Transmission: the missing link in the renewables revolution.

In the critical context of climate change and renewable energy, the argument for transmission is as follows: in order to cut carbon to the level we must by 2050, we need 100,000 MW of renewable power. That necessitates at least 25,000 miles of new high voltage transmission. In other words, we need enough transmission to cross the country, going east-west, over 9 times. But those wires are not easy to put up. In fact regulators, nationally, regionally and locally can make putting up transmission a long and difficult process, despite being easier than it has been in years past as a result of FERC Order 1000.

On top of all that, to connect renewables—which often are located in rural areas—to urban centers you need to put up transmission, transmission must be built to cross those rural areas. Often, that means going through the wilderness. And that has turned many environmentalists, who would otherwise support the infrastructure that is needed for renewable power, against it.

And there are many other groups who have their own issues with new transmission.

So this is the task at hand: to find a way to address complex regulation and the concerns of all those affected by new transmission so that we can find a way to build the infrastructure needed to avoid the worst effects of climate change.

As one can see, this is exactly why getting stakeholders in the same room as experts who represent many backgrounds—from government to contractors to environmentalists—is critical to progress.

In that vein, we’d like to extend a massive thank you to our sponsors, speakers, moderators, and attendees who made the Denver event a great one.

We hope that you’ll be able to join us at our next event. Stay tuned.

The Southeast Clean Energy Transmission Summit: Bringing the Fight to The Volunteer State

For its latest event, Americans for a Clean Energy grid brought the battle for a domestic clean energy build-out into contentious territory: coal country. ACEG hosted the Southeast Clean Energy Transmission Summit in Nashville, Tennessee on November 14th along with co-hosts Vanderbilt University, Clean Line Energy, ITC Holdings, and WIRES—each of whom supplied a panelist of their own. The summit brought together several booming voices in the energy industry: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Commissioner John R. Norris, PJM Interconnection President & CEO Terry Boston, and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, among others, to speak about the benefits of clean energy transmission. Discussion touched on the shifting dynamics of the energy industry, the Southeast’s lag in clean energy build-out, and the challenges behind planning, siting, and allocating costs for new transmission wires. If one point resonated above all, however, it’s that in order to have the clean energy future that the United States wants to see, there must be transmission wires spanning the country to support it. If power plants are our heart and distribution lines our nerves, then transmission is our backbone.

Commissioner Norris offered an even more compelling analogy in reference to the need for regions to cooperate in their planning:

I’m an Iowa farm kid. We raised hogs on my farm growing up, and the neighbors raised cattle. When we needed to put a new fence in for the hogs, we didn’t just go put a hog fence in right next to the cattle fence, that didn’t make a lot of sense. It made a lot more sense to talk to that cattle farmer and see if we could share poles, and we could pay for the woven wire on the bottom and he could pay for the barbed wire on the top. It just kinda made sense to me that we increased communication across regions so we could figure out how to make our neighboring systems cooperate and share resources.”

Overall, the day was chock-full with quotables:

“The Southeast lags the rest of the country in renewable energy development. Not a single Southeastern state is in the top 25.” – Jim Rossi, Professor of Energy & Administrative Law at Vanderbilt University

“Power engineering is not rocket science…it’s much more important.” – Terry Boston, President & CEO of PJM Interconnection

“Grid manufacturing and construction alone will create 150,000 to 200,000 permanent, high quality jobs nationwide for the next 20 years.” – Jim Hoecker, Counsel, WIRES Group

“Multiple benefits to us [of transmission] are obvious, but there’s an equally strong opposing opinion that needs to hear the story.” – David Till, General Manager for Transmission Strategies, Tennessee Valley Authority

“Wind is truly a home-grown, American industry.” – Christy Omohundro, Regional Representative, American Wind Energy Association

“It was hard to give up my Mustang, but the power in a Nissan Leaf is fantastic.” –Mayor Karl Dean, City of Nashville

The event drew in local stakeholders ranging from media outlets to electrical wire workers to students to environmental groups. Other panelists and moderators included representatives from AOL Energy, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nashville Public Radio, Southern Company, Southern Environmental Law Center, GLWN, Oak Ridge National Lab, The Tennessean, Nashville Public Radio, Nissan, and the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association.

YouTube links for the event will be provided shortly.

The next Americans for a Clean Energy Grid’s event is being planned for January in Denver, Colorado.


Live Webcast of Clean Energy Transmission Summit

Click here to view the live webcast.

We know that there are big decisions coming up that will affect the future of energy in America. We know that clean energy can only become mainstream if there is infrastructure to support it. And we know that the Southeast is a critical region in this national conversation.

That’s why we’re having the Southeast Clean Energy Transmission Summit this Wednesday, November 14th, from 9:00am to 4:30pm CST.

As important as these discussions are, many can’t make it to Nashville for the event. So we’ve created a live webcast of the entire event, so that you can stay up to speed on what industry, government, and thought leaders are saying about these important issues.

Tune in from anywhere that you can get an internet signal! We will be live-tweeting the event as well, so if you have questions during the event or just join the conversation, tweet to us @CleanEnergyGrid with the hashtag #SEgrid.

We hope to see you at the event—but if you can’t make it, we hope you’ll join us online.

solar panel

Mayor Karl Dean Joins Expert Lineup for Southeast Clean Energy Transmission Summit, Nov. 14

We are pleased to announce the participation of Nashville Mayor Karl Dean at the Southeast Clean Energy Transmission Summit next week. Mayor Dean will be part of a panel discussion on the role electric vehicles have to play with respect to the grid in the Southeast. Mayor Dean’s enthusiasm for clean energy and participation in the panel underlines the broad interest in the clean energy sector throughout the region.

Today marks just over a week before the November 14th event, which will convene elected officials as well as representatives from leading clean energy and transmission organizations to discuss critical elements of energy development in the Southeast.

In addition to Mayor Dean, a number of other exciting speakers have been added to the event agenda, including:

  • Vignesh Gowrishankar, Sustainable Energy Advocate, National Resources Defense Council will inform the clean energy grid panel on federal policies relating to energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy.
  • Doug Motley, Director of Development, ITC Holdings Corp. brings private sector expertise from the largest independent electricity transmission company in the country.
  • Frank Rambo, Senior Attorney, Southern Environmental Law Center will provide unique insight into the environmental implications of the Southeast’s changing energy profile.
  • Stan Hadley, Senior Researcher, Oak Ridge National Lab will speak to the potential for the manufacturing strengths of the Southeast to inform overall grid deployment.

Join these experts in what promises to be an interesting discussion about clean energy, transmission policies, and their implications for business, manufacturing, and a brighter energy future for the Southeast.

A full agenda for this FREE event can be found on the event web page.

wind turbine blue

Excitement grows for Nashville Clean Energy Summit, New Speakers Added

With the election less than a week away and with a post-Sandy public focused on the importance of a modern, safe and stable electric grid, there has never been a better time to convene experts from across the nation to discuss the future of energy in the Southeast.

As the November 14th Nashville based Southeast Clean Energy Summit approaches, our list of speakers keeps growing. In the past few days, we’ve had three exciting new additions:

  • Terry Boston is the President and CEO of PJM Interconnection, which coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in 13 states and DC. He is returning to Tennessee where he served for 35 years at TVA, most recently serving as TVA’s Executive Vice President. Mr. Boston will be a keynote speaker.

  • Bradley Smith runs 4R for Nissan, a department which is in the business of re-using electric vehicle batteries and will offer a unique perspective on why a modern grid is critical for the success of electric vehicles.

  • David Till coordinates inter-regional transmission for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Through his work for the local utility, he’ll be able to provide unique insight into the Southeast’s energy future.

These three speakers join a host of others

in discussing the future of energy and the importance of a modern grid.

We hope you’ll join us as this important event.

RSVP here.

5 Reasons You Can’t Miss the Southeast Clean Energy Transmission Summit on Nov. 14th in Nashville

The Southeast Clean Energy Transmission Summit to take place in Nashville Nov 14:
Five reasons you can’t miss it

In the wake of a presidential election, a quickly changing regional energy landscape, and clean energy and transmission issues requiring major decisions in the near future, the Southeast Clean Energy Summit will convene leaders to discuss the current status of transmission planning in the Southeast, what decisions need to be made, and what our energy future has in store.

There has never been a more pressing time to address our nation’s grid transmission needs, particularly in the Southeast:

Expansion and modernization of the high-voltage transmission network is urgent, particularly in the Southeast.

Renewable technology in Tennessee has enormous potential and transmission is critical to its deployment. The Tennessee Valley Authority partners with wind farms outside its jurisdiction, since importing renewable electricity is cheaper than developing local resources. Imports aren’t possible without savvy transmission planning.

Developing the transmission grid in Tennessee means new economic opportunities. Increased demand for electric infrastructure and renewable technologies will infuse the state with manufacturing and other economic opportunities, paving the way for new jobs.

Transmission has implications for greenhouse gas emissions reductions – a more strategically planned grid can harness the bounty of renewable energy available in the region and have a huge impact on our environment.

• Top experts will be discussing the newest developments in transmission planning and technology. Industry leaders, national regulators, local elected officials, and clean energy advocates (full agenda below) will discuss what the future holds for meeting electricity demand in the Southeast.

Our speakers will help the audience – ranging from industry employees to local media outlets to environmental advocates and the general public – navigate the interconnected, “wiry” world of transmission. These experts will include FERC Commissioner John R. Norris, Americans for a Clean Energy Grid Managing Director John Jimison, Clean Line Energy Partners’ Executive Vice President Jimmy Glotfelty, The WIRES Group Senior Counsel Jim Hoecker, Southern Company’s John Lucas, Duke Energy’s Senior Vice President Phil Grigsby, Southern Environmental Law Center’s Jill Tauber, Global WIND Network’s Ed Weston, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Joe Garcia, and others.

An abridged agenda can be found below, or visit the event page for a full agenda and additional event information, or you can click this link to RSVP.

8:15am – light breakfast
8:45am – welcome and introductions
9:00am – Panel I: Post election perspectives on clean energy, transmission, federal policy, and
their impacts on the Southeast
10:00am – Panel II: The energy internet: planning and building the clean energy grid
11:15am – Panel III: The Southeast’s changing energy mix: how clean energy transmission can
make electricity cheaper and more reliable
12:30pm – Lunch and keynote speech by FERC commissioner, John Norris
1:45pm – Panel IV: Much more than wires: how a robust and modern grid plays to the
Southeast’s manufacturing strengths and favorable business climate
3:15pm – Panel V: Electric vehicles and the greening of our grid
4:30 – Concluding remarks

Hope to see you there!

transmission blue sky

Transmission is Key to a Diversified Energy Portfolio

This article originally appeared in Crains Cleveland Business on August 14, 2012.

The demand for reliable and cost-effective electric power continues to increase in the U.S. and around the world. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration in its Annual Energy Outlook 2012, the demand for electricity in the U.S. is expected to grow by 22% by 2035.

Clearly, we will need to add a significant amount of electricity generation capacity to meet that demand. But is that the end of the story?

Many experts would argue that modernizing and expanding the capacity of our nation’s electrical transmission grid is critical to assuring the long-term stability of our electrical system and its ability to meet ever-increasing future demand. One source of new electricity generation that experts look to in order to meet our increasing demand is wind energy. In some parts of the country, wind energy is now very cost effective and competitive with other sources of new generation. But, as we all know, the wind doesn’t always blow at the same speed all the time.

This intermittent nature of wind energy causes a variety of complex technical issues and challenges for utilities and grid operators as they try to integrate wind energy into the grid at a large scale. Essentially, the current grid has limitations on the amount of wind energy it can accommodate, which is one of the obstacles to large-scale wind deployment. If we want to achieve higher levels of wind energy on the grid, then we must address this problem.

Energy storage technology is one way to deal with the challenges presented by intermittent power. Researchers and companies already are working on this issue. In fact, here in Northeast Ohio, Ashlawn Energy is developing a large scale battery (1 megawatt; 8 megawatt-hours) for the City of Painesville Municipal Power Plant in Lake County. The battery will allow the City of Painesville to store some power when the wind is blowing and then release it when the wind is not blowing. This technology has the potential to truly transform our electricity grid.

In addition to energy storage, another approach to managing intermittent power can be found by expanding the transmission system. The wind blows at different speeds and at different times of the day across different parts of the country. When you look at wind in aggregate across the U.S., it is much more consistent and continuous than in any one geographic area.

What if we could move, or share, the wind energy generated in one part of the country to match the needs in another other part of the country? If we could do that, then we could achieve a more consistent energy output from our nation’s wind resources and solve many of the challenges associated with integrating wind energy into the grid. But in order to tap into this opportunity, we need the ability to move large-scale quantities of energy around the country. This would require significant expansion of our transmission system.

Updating and expanding the transmission infrastructure has its own challenges and will require significant investment. Last week, I participated in the Ohio Clean Energy Transmission Summit, in Columbus, to discuss challenges associated with the current transmission infrastructure and the possibilities for the future. The daylong gathering examined many facets of this complex issue, including regulations and policies for new transmission capacity, costs and benefits associated with new transmission infrastructure, and the impact it will have on developing new energy resources. The economic development opportunities offered by investments in transmission were also discussed.

Ultimately, any changes to the transmission grid depend upon the regulatory framework established by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The independent government agency regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas and oil. FERC recently issued a landmark order, Order 1000, which reforms the Commission’s electric transmission planning and cost allocation requirements for public utility transmission providers. Order 1000 is intended to ensure that regions are able to build the transmission infrastructure they need to meet the needs of their consumers and that the costs will be allocated in a fair manner. Currently, many utilities and grid operators across the country are responding and trying to understand this new FERC order and how to make it work in their region.

Expanding the electric transmission system will provide a more reliable, resilient grid for all of us and will enable the integration of multiple generation sources to achieve a diverse portfolio. However, we must be smart about making these investment decisions by objectively weighing the costs and benefits of building out the transmission infrastructure.

wind turbine blue

Report Release: The Potential Rate Effects of Wind Energy and Transmission in the Midwest ISO Region

“The Potential Rate Effects of Wind Energy and Transmission in the Midwest ISO Region”

A new study examining the effect of additional wind energy on power market prices and transmission costs in the Midwest.

Please join us for the release of a new analysis of the cost savings from wind energy in the Midwest on:

May 22, 2012
9:30 AM – 10:30 AM
1025 F Street NW, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20004

Because wind energy has a zero “fuel” cost, wind power can place significant downward pressure on wholesale electricity prices. A new study by Synapse Energy Economics looks at the power market in the Midwest (MISO) and found that the more wind you add to the grid, the lower wholesale prices dip, and the more consumers save.

Please join us for a report release and panel discussion with representatives from Synapse, Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, and others at 9:30 AM on Tuesday, May 22nd. Attendees can also listen to the event via teleconference, with dial-in instructions released next week.

RSVP by clicking here