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2002-03 Seminars

Transmission Line Siting: A Quantitative Analysis of Transmission Demand and Siting Difficulty

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Shalini Vajjhala
CEIC, Engineering and Public Policy


Recent events, such as the California energy crisis, have focused national attention on the growing demand for electricity in the United States and the simultaneously lagging development of electricity transmission infrastructure. In spite of recurring examples of the nation's ailing grid and the widespread call for new transmission construction, transmission line siting is universally described as a difficult and time-consuming process often resulting in construction delays or cancellations of new lines. Problems with individual transmission projects have been attributed primarily to lack of investment incentive, public opposition, regulatory roadblocks, and geographic or environmental constraints. However, most of the information about siting difficulty is anecdotal and project-specific, and there is little comprehensive empirical analysis on the factors affecting transmission line siting. This research addresses the three most fundamental questions of the siting problem: How difficult is siting? What makes it difficult? And finally what can be done to ease the problem? This paper presents four unique measures of the need for transmission capacity and associated siting difficulty, and based on these measures develops a preliminary model for quantitatively evaluating the factors affecting transmission line siting at the state-level.