Full Title: Transmission Makes the Power System Resilient to Extreme Weather
Author(s): Michael Goggin
Publisher(s): American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), Grid Strategies LLC
Publication Date: July 22, 2021
Full Text: Download Resource
This February, millions of Americans experienced prolonged power outages when electricity demand exceeded supply as record cold gripped much of the Central U.S. Power outages are always life-threatening for those who rely on electric medical devices, but they can be dangerous for anyone during a period of extreme cold or heat. Tragically, it appears the February power outages contributed to hundreds of deaths in Texas alone. Electricity is also increasingly the lifeblood of America’s economy, and is essential for powering first responders and national security workers. The Congressional Research Service estimates that weather-related power outages cost Americans $25-70 billion annually.
Many recent studies show that interregional transmission lines like those discussed in this paper become increasingly essential as wind and solar penetrations increase in different parts of the country. Just as these lines aggregate diverse sources of electricity supply and demand to balance out localized disruptions during extreme weather, they provide a similar value by canceling out local fluctuations in wind or solar output.
There have also been other extreme temperature and severe weather events in other regions over the last decade in which stronger transmission ties would have been similarly valuable. However, those events occurred in regions without centralized power markets or in regions that were not adjacent to those with centralized power markets, making it more difficult to quantify the value of transmission due to the lack of transparent market price information. It is likely that these regions could have seen benefits from transmission expansion that are comparable to those quantified in this report. The following section discusses in more detail the value additional transmission could have provided during the five recent severe weather events.