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CommonWealth Magazine: Three steps for turning the power grid around

Posted by Jeremy McDiarmid and Kat Burnham on Aug 22, 2023

In an opinion piece to CommonWealth Magazine, Advanced Energy United’s Jeremy McDiarmid and Kat Burnham stressed the importance of a robust and resilient grid, highlighting the role New England governors have in building on state commitments to clean energy goals by taking a regional, holistic approach to developing the grid.

The utter devastation of summer flooding in New England and New York and the Canadian wildfire smoke that shrouded the Northeast in an orange haze in June shouts an inescapable truth louder than any voice: Climate change knows no geographic boundaries. Like it or not, the climate crisis is a global and regional issue. We’re in it together, and we’ll have to get out of it together.

Most New England states are committed to making progress on climate action, but states won’t meet their goals without a holistic approach. We need a drastic cut in carbon emissions and no amount of solar, wind, or electric vehicles will get us there without a robust, resilient, and dynamic grid across our states. Getting to 100 percent clean energy requires regional solutions, and New England governors should take the opportunity to show how it’s done.

Transmission infrastructure — the big wires that move electricity from where it is generated to where it is used — is as critical to our way of life as roads and bridges; it’s the reason your lights turn on when you flip a switch.

Right now, much of our transmission infrastructure is outdated. Notably, Americans for a Clean Energy Grid recently gave New England a D+ grade in transmission planning and development and an F on its ability to bring new clean energy onto the existing grid. Experts estimate that in order to create a grid that can support our ambitious goals, New England will need to build between 10 and 37 gigawatts of new transmission capacity through new lines and upgrades.

We’ve got to turbocharge our plans. With millions of New Englanders relying on the energy grid to power our lives and businesses every day, the stakes are too high to fail. And with climate change driving hotter temperatures and longer heat waves, demand on the grid is only rising. In 1975, just 13 percent of new homes in the Northeast were built with air conditioning. Today, that number has increased to 89 percent. As New Englanders adapt to the new realities of climate change and take advantage of electric heat pump technologies, the energy grid has to adapt too.

In New England and across the country, the clean energy transition is beckoning. But strong leadership is an essential ingredient. Transmission development often takes 10 years or more — the faster we move, the better.

As the saying goes, the best time to do this was a decade ago, but the second-best time is now.

Read the full article here.

Topics: United In The News, Transmission, New England