In order to transform the nation’s antiquated energy system into a modern, reliable and cleaner one, the United States must quickly enact an economy-wide cap on global warming pollution and a strong federal renewable electricity standard. Upgrading the U.S. transmission system is an essential complement to those policies, because it will help remove existing barriers that prevent the nation from realizing its vast renewable energy development potential.
Specifically, the United States needs new federal policies to increase the reliability and efficiency of the electric grid and maximize the integration of renewable resources within it. Because many of our most plentiful and economic renewable resource producing areas are located far from populous load centers, “Green Energy Superhighways” are needed if the United States is to expand the use of clean, renewable electricity and reduce carbon emissions from the electricity sector. To do this, we need to reform how transmission lines are planned, sited and managed. Legislation is needed that would give the federal government the authority to ensure that needed transmission lines are built in a timely manner and costs are fairly allocated. States and regions should have primary responsibility to work out transmission agreements, but the federal government should be able to step in when states can't agree on the need for new facilities that serve a broader national interest.