In recent years, there have been numerous pronouncements about the upcoming demise of the bulk power grid as consumers are projected to move toward decentralized green energy sources. In 2010, the Bloom Box was going to provide power from a refrigerator-sized box to the masses. In 2013, David Crane, then CEO of NRG Energy, told Bloomberg that the electric grid would be obsolete in a manner and timeframe comparable to that in which cell phones have replaced land lines. The consensus at DistribuTECH’s 2015 Smart Grid Conference was that by the end of the decade one-third of the electricity supply could come from distributed energy resources.
We do not believe the end of the electric grid is near. Decarbonization efforts will likely be accompanied by increasing transmission expansion. In the last decade, low load growth in the U.S. has been accompanied by continued transmission growth. Annual electric load growth has trended downward over our lifetimes. However, in the past decade, investment in the transmission system has been continuously increasing. What is driving this growth in transmission?

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