Benefits of Transmission
High-voltage power line upgrades benefit all of us by:
- Enhancing electric reliability.
- Connecting customers to competitively priced and cleaner sources of electric power throughout the region.
- Eliminating millions of dollars in penalties we pay for federally mandated "congestion charges" each year.
- Increasing the assessed value of transmission facilities, adding to town tax revenue.
In electric system terms, reliability means being able to serve power to customers even when planned or certain unplanned disruptions to the system occur. Disruptions to the bulk power system have the potential to cascade and cause widespread outages, safety issues and significant economic losses, as happened in the Northeast Blackout of 2003.
Considered the worst such event in North American history, the 2003 Blackout left 50 million people in the Midwest, the northeastern U.S. and Canada suddenly without power. Traffic lights went out and gridlock followed. Hospitals were faced with critical care situations. Air conditioning was lost in the August heat. People were trapped in elevators. Work halted.
The cost of that blackout is estimated to be $6 billion, and since then electric system reliability has gained increased attention. The Energy Act of 2005 was passed as a result of the Blackout, putting enforcement power behind the federal agency that oversees the electric industry and leading to more stringent reliability standards.
Failure to meet the standards can result in fines of $1 million per violation per day. This has added urgency to projects throughout New England to update a transmission system that was largely built 30, 40 and even 50 years ago for a different role and a much smaller power demand.
Within the electric utility industry, "reliability" is defined as:
1: Adequacy - The ability of the bulk power system to supply the aggregate electrical demand and energy requirements of customers at all times, taking into account scheduled and reasonably expected unscheduled outages of system elements.
2: Security - The ability of the bulk power system to withstand sudden disturbances such as electric short circuits or unanticipated loss of system elements from credible contingencies.
Over the past century, the nation's economic leadership has in many ways mirrored the trajectory of the grid's development.
In today's digital world, electrical demand from sensitive electronic equipment and automated manufacturing represents 40 percent of the electric load. This is expected to rise to more than 60% by 2015, demonstrating how reliable power can make an area more attractive to business.
Modernizing the bulk power infrastructure will support more robust economic development and job creation.