Tom Konrad, Ph.D.
I’ve been reading a report out of the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office called The REDI Report: Connecting Colorado’s Renewable Resources to the Markets in a Carbon-Constrained Electricity Sector. I summarized the REDI report’s main conclusions and drew some conclusions for stock market investors here.
I found the report’s discussion of transmission costs particularly interesting, because I’ve had trouble finding numbers for the cost of transmission in the past. I once resorted to Wikipedia in order to find costs for transmission when comparing them to the costs of large scale electricity storage. If you don’t think that the two are comparable, consider that long distance transmission can reduce the net variability of wind and solar, making it possible to integrate these renewable forms of generation without the cost of expensive storage. That’s why even net-zero electricity homes are connected to the grid: it’s prohibitively expensive to buy enough batteries to keep the lights on 24/7.
Here are a couple cost charts from the report:
I took the data from the above table, and plugged it into my spreadsheet comparing the costs of electricity storage. Below are the updated graphs (click for enlarged versions.) The notation "2-500 kV AC" means a Double-circuit 500 kV AC line. As in the storage comparison, I computed the costs and round-trip electricity losses for a 1000 mile line, since that was the example I used in my original Transmission/Storage comparison.