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NPR Offers a Primer on Clean Transmission

For those folks new to the issues surrounding clean energy transmission, this ten-part series from National Public Radio that ran last summer on the future of the U.S. electric power system provides a quick and well-done primer on some of the key topics. Check out the series here.

The special series, titled “Power Hungry: Reinventing the U.S. Electric Grid,” spotlights some of the benefits of developing our renewable energy potential, as well as some of the regional, financial and political challenges involved with moving that electricity from where it is abundant to where it is needed.

Reid Detchon, Executive Director of the Energy Future Coalition, is quoted in the third installment, which covers the challenges of interstate siting of transmission lines.  The installment also touches on the development of smarter distribution and end-use technologies.

Though it is almost a year old, the interactive graph produced for this primer offers a great visual introduction to the grid and to the issue of moving renewable power from where it is cheap to produce to the towns and cities where it is needed. See the visual here.

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Why We Need Transmission

While climate legislation has not yet come to pass, we know major reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be a reality. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), for example, sets a long-term target for greenhouse gas emissions reductions of more than 80% by 2050. To meet the renewable energy and emissions reductions goals of H.R. 2454, we will need all the renewable energy we can get, at least cost. This is not an either/or choice.

The changes in our energy system needed to reach that goal are profound. We need to begin planning today to reach those reductions by 2050, and one thing is clear: We cannot deliver that much low-carbon energy without changes to the grid. Low-carbon electricity will be expected to power not only our homes and businesses, but also an increasing portion of our vehicle fleet. The system we have today for planning, permitting, and financing transmission lines was not designed to respond quickly to a challenge of this magnitude – moving many thousands of megawatts of renewable energy from remote areas to load centers.

It is not obvious today what specific changes will be needed to support the coming transformation of the U.S. electricity system. What is obvious is that we need a planning system that identifies what is needed in the national interest, and a regulatory structure that allows those projects to get built in a timely way – whether that means long-distance cross-country lines, offshore collector systems, or a combination of local renewables, demand reduction, and transmission.


The Library – A Tutorial

How to Use the Library

One of the key functions of the National Clean Energy Transmission website is to provide a user-friendly library of reports, analyses, videos, and articles covering a wide variety of transmission topics.  We’ve built in a number of ways to make your searches quicker and easier.

Search Field – If you are looking for a key word from the title or a specific author, you can type it in the Search Field and see the results in real-time in the library.

Categories – Each library entry is tagged with one or more categories (legislation, planning, siting etc).  By clicking in one of the category boxes, you can instantly narrow the library to just the items that have that tag.  You can further narrow your search by clicking more than one category box.  This will bring up only those articles with all of the clicked categories.  As the library grows, we anticipate adding new categories.

Other – You can also search by publication date or by file type.

We hope that you find the library useful and easy to navigate.  Of course, please let us know if you have any comments or questions.

Welcome to Our New Website


Welcome to the new website for the National Clean Energy Transmission Initiative.  We are a diverse coalition of environmental organizations, labor unions, renewable energy developers and advocates, and utilities – more than 50 groups dedicated to unlocking our country’s cheap, abundant renewable power.  This site will help us meet a couple of goals.

First, the site will help you keep on top of the latest news and analysis from the world of clean energy transmission.  It seems like every day there are a few new analyses, reports, presentations, or rulings involving electric transmission and the smart grid.  The NCETI site will help by gathering that information in one convenient location giving you the insight and perspective of our team on each item – both in our blog and in abstracts attached to each document.   The NCETI site will also have brief overviews of key issues for those folks who are new to transmission and the smart grid.

NCETI is more than an information depot, though.  Over the next year, our coalition will be organizing events around the country.  Stay tuned to the site to get updates on events and activities near you.  You can receive updates too – just click here to sign up.

We hope you find the site interesting and engaging.  Please feel free to leave us a comment to let us know what you think.