US sees ‘five-fold rise’ in electricity transmission spending

Investment in electricity transmission infrastructure in the US increased five-fold from 1997 to 2012, according to new figures. That helped reverse a three-decade decline, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) […]

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By Priyanka Shrestha

Investment in electricity transmission infrastructure in the US increased five-fold from 1997 to 2012, according to new figures.

That helped reverse a three-decade decline, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) said, as investment rose from $2.7 billion (£1.6bn) in 1997 to £14.1 billion (£8.5bn) in 2012.

Spending increased in the 1990s in an effort to improve reliability, accommodate changes in electricity demand, reform markets and connect renewable energy sources to the grid.

Between 1997 and 2012, renewable standards and tax credits combined with a “substantial decrease” in the cost to build large-scale wind turbines led to a boost in wind generation – from four million MWh in 1999 to 141 million MWh in 2012. Utility-scale solar production also rose during this period.

“Because the best areas for wind and solar generation are often far from load centres, new transmission infrastructure was built to accommodate these renewable electricity generators”, the EIA added.