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Ambitious Transmission Projects in Texas and U.S. Northeast

It's myth that new transmission can't get built

2 min read

For decades there's been a notion that you can't get new transmission built in the United States because of the NIMBY syndrome, unfounded fears about powerline radiation, overlapping local, state and Federal authorities, and unresolved ambiguities as to how transmission investment will be rewarded in the new world of electricity restructuring and deregulation. So it came as something of a surprise, when we profiled the New England Independent System Operator, to learn that New England has successfully got a lot of new transmission built in recent years. PJM, which we characterized in an earlier profile has a smooth grid operator, also has done well.

This week, at a meeting of IEEE's PES section in New York City, members heard about how Powerbridge LLC connected up PJM and Long Island with a 500 kV, 100-km HVDC line that's been running pretty much at full capacity since coming into operation three years ago. As Jim Nash, Powerbridge's VP for engineering said, it's as if a new 660-MW low-cost generator had come into operation to provide power to Long Island's hard-pressed consumers. Now Powerbridge is looking to build a second 660-MW line that would connect Manhattan's main substation with New Jersey, in part by using an abandoned raid tunnel in the Palisades. In the second project as well as the first, Siemens would supply most of the crucial filtering and control equipment, while Prysmian would lay the cable.

Meanwhile, Toronto-based Transmission Developers Inc. is looking to build a 700-km, 2-GW cable under Lake Champlain that would connect wind and hydro generation in Quebec with customers on Long Island and the New York City area. Expected to cost nearly $4 billion if built, the project must pass numerous regulatory hurdles and deal with all manner of interests that could be adversely affected, including the lobstermen who ply the waters of Long Island Sound.

 Deep in the heart of Texas, a major transmission line intended to carry wind energy will likely received regulatory approval, having been rerouted in response to complaints from the big ranchers and landowners of the Heart of Texas Landowners' Coalition. It's just one of several transmission lines being built in Texas to connect relatively cheap wind generation with customers.

The Conversation (0)
This photograph shows a car with the words “We Drive Solar” on the door, connected to a charging station. A windmill can be seen in the background.

The Dutch city of Utrecht is embracing vehicle-to-grid technology, an example of which is shown here—an EV connected to a bidirectional charger. The historic Rijn en Zon windmill provides a fitting background for this scene.

We Drive Solar

Hundreds of charging stations for electric vehicles dot Utrecht’s urban landscape in the Netherlands like little electric mushrooms. Unlike those you may have grown accustomed to seeing, many of these stations don’t just charge electric cars—they can also send power from vehicle batteries to the local utility grid for use by homes and businesses.

Debates over the feasibility and value of such vehicle-to-grid technology go back decades. Those arguments are not yet settled. But big automakers like Volkswagen, Nissan, and Hyundai have moved to produce the kinds of cars that can use such bidirectional chargers—alongside similar vehicle-to-home technology, whereby your car can power your house, say, during a blackout, as promoted by Ford with its new F-150 Lightning. Given the rapid uptake of electric vehicles, many people are thinking hard about how to make the best use of all that rolling battery power.

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