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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Impacts of Demand-Side Resources on Electric Transmission Planning

  • Author(s): Sanstad, Alan
  • et al.

Will demand resources such as energy efficiency (EE), demand response (DR), and distributed generation (DG) have an impact on electricity transmission requirements? Five drivers for transmission expansion are discussed: interconnection, reliability, economics, replacement, and policy. With that background, we review the results of a set of transmission studies that were conducted between 2010 and 2013 by electricity regulators, industry representatives, and other stakeholders in the three physical interconnections within the United States. These broad-based studies were funded by the US Department of Energy and included scenarios of reduced load growth due to EE, DR, and DG. While the studies were independent and used different modeling tools and interconnect-specific assumptions, all provided valuable results and insights. However, some caveats exist. Demand resources were evaluated in conjunction with other factors, and limitations on transmission additions between scenarios made understanding the role of demand resources difficult. One study, the western study, included analyses over both 10- and 20-year planning horizons; the 10-year analysis did not show near-term reductions in transmission, but the 20-year indicated fewer transmission additions, yielding a 36percent capital cost reduction. In the eastern study the reductions in demand largely led to reductions in local generation capacity and an increased opportunity for low-cost and renewable generation to export to other regions. The Texas study evaluated generation changes due to demand, and is in the process of examining demand resource impacts on transmission.

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