Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Wise(r) words on renewables and transmission

Posted by Rich Sweeney on December 16, 2008

Last week the NYTimes ran a new story with a familiar punchline: despite noble ambitions, many states look poised to fall well short of their renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandates. The piece quotes LBNL’s Ryan Wiser, who has written and research extensively on renewable electricity. While the article talked mainly about loopholes and small regulatory incentives to comply, Wiser concludes with this blunt statement:

“It comes down in a lot of ways to transmission, ultimately.”

Where have I heard that before? Actually in my previous post I forgot to link to the paper I mentioned, which I co-authored with Shalini Vajjhala, Karen Palmer, and Anthony Paul. In it we show that increasing interregional transmission capacity can increase renewable penetration in a baseline scenario (absent any national RPS), and decrease the cost of renewable energy credits if a national RPS is enacted.

Also, in response to the last post I got a useful email directing me to WIRES, a coalition of transmission interests working on public policy to alleviate congestion and promote renewables. For those interested, there’s lots of useful information on their website, including a new report done by CRA on integrating locationally constrained resources.

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