Investigating the effect of increased wind generation capacity on investment in transmission infrastructure
Braswell, Michael Gregory.
Thesis (M.P.P.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. The transmission network that connects electricity generators with consumers is a critical yet often-overlooked component of the nation's electrical power infrastructure. However, the transmission grid has suffered from chronic underinvestment in recent decades due to various economic and regulatory factors that impede timely and efficient investments in transmission. One factor that might help offset these obstacles to transmission is the growth in wind power generation. The assumption among many in the electrical power industry is that wind power investments necessarily require greater investment in transmission due to the fact that wind power is a geographically-restricted resource and cannot always be situated close to areas of high electricity demand. However, to date there have been few, if any, empirical studies to verify this connection. This paper discusses a state-by-state empirical study exploring the relationship between increased wind generation capacity and the level of investment in transmission infrastructure. This study begins with the hypothesis that increases in installed wind generation capacity, in combination with other policies that promote wind energy more generally, should result in higher levels of transmission investment. Using data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), this paper develops regression models suggesting that wind investment has a small but distinct positive impact on transmission investment. This paper then explores the effects of other state renewable energy promotion policies, and discusses the policy implications of these findings.
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