AWEA responds to power grid enhancement plan

Plan says investment in transmission infrastructure to get wind energy to the Eastern U.S. could result in annual savings to consumers of $12 billion.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA, Washington, D.C.) on Feb. 9 said it welcomed results from the Joint Coordinated System Plan (JCSP) study concluding that an investment in the power grid to enable wind to supply 20 percent of the electricity needs of the Eastern U.S. would save consumers $12 billion annually, recovering capital costs in as little as seven years while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the power grid more reliable.

“AWEA is pleased to see that yet another study has found that upgrading our power grid to put the nation’s wind energy resources to use saves consumers money, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and makes the power grid more reliable,” said AWEA policy director Rob Gramlich. “The study reinforces what we’ve been saying for some time: upgrading the power grid to access our nation’s world-class wind power resources is a win-win for consumers and the environment.”

The wind resources brought online by the upgraded transmission network would reduce CO2 emissions in the Eastern U.S. by almost 3 billion tons per year, savings potentially worth tens of billions of dollars under a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system.

The study also found that the need for new coal-fired, baseload power plants would be cut in half under the wind and transmission scenario — dispelling the assumption that renewable energy cannot reduce the need for such power. Moreover, the reliability of the power grid would be enhanced, reducing the likelihood of events like the August 2003 blackout that cost consumers and businesses billions of dollars.

Although the study did not calculate job creation or economic development benefits of the wind and transmission scenario, other studies, like the U.S. Department of Energy’s “20% Wind Energy by 2030” report, have shown that obtaining 20% of the nation’s electricity from wind power would create more than 500,000 jobs and generate $80 billion per year in economic activity.

AWEA will hold a national workshop on Wind Power Transmission on March 17 - 18, 2009, in Overland Park, KS.  Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius will be a keynote speaker, and the workshop will address the full range of transmission issues, from interconnection queue logjams to proposals for national transmission policy. For more information, visit For a copy of the study, visit