Most analyses find that to manage climate change, the United States will need to double or triple the size of its electric transmission system to move low-cost wind and solar energy around the nation and back it up with always-on power plants. But new report from Clean Air Task Force and the Niskanen Center finds that the current piecemeal, project-by-project approach to expanding U.S. electricity transmission won’t get us there. It instead calls for a new system to rapidly scale capacity — including by potentially establishing a National Transmission Organization that would plan, site, and fund a national grid to ensure that burdens and benefits are fairly shared.
The report synthesizes the findings from independent research and a workshop composed of a diverse array of experts from academia, industry, and environmental organizations. It outlines a wide range of options for revamping U.S. transmission oversight, planning, and permitting. Additionally, it includes both a pathway with a better organized private sector presence and a pathway with greater government engagement. These possibilities sit on a spectrum, and creative hybrids are possible.