While Congress and President Obama dither over replenishing the nearly depleted Highway Trust Fund, a more fundamental part of America’s fabric is quietly being strengthened. While derelict bridges garner headlines, it is our fragile power grid that can inconvenience tens of millions of Americans when power goes out in a summer heat wave. The federal government is taking the lead as an Edison Electric Institute report says:
Recognizing the importance of transmission to the nation’s economy, security and quality of life, the Administration recently announced the first ‘Quadrennial Energy Review,’ building off of its Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future, instructing the heads of twenty-two executive departments and agencies to collaborate on a year-long review of transmission and distribution infrastructure.
The Edison Electric Institute report details the extensive private investment that is being made in the backbone of our economy. EEI reports:
In 2012, total transmission investment reached $14.8 billion (real $2012). We expect that increases in year-over-year total transmission investment by EEI’s members will have peaked in 2013 with estimated investment at approximately $17.5 billion (real $2012).
These transmission investments provide an array of benefits which include: providing reliable electricity service to customers, relieving congestion, facilitating wholesale market competition, supporting a diverse and changing generation portfolio and mitigating damage and limiting customer outages in extreme weather.