A new report released today identifies 22 shovel ready, high-voltage transmission projects — including three in Arizona — that, if constructed, would create approximately 1,240,000 American jobs and lead to 60,000 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy capacity, increasing America’s wind and solar generation by nearly 50 percent. The report, Transmission Projects Ready to Go: Plugging into America’s Untapped Renewable Resources, produced by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) as part of the Macro Grid Initiative, outlines how these projects could begin construction soon if more workable transmission policies are enacted.

These regional and interregional transmission lines would not only bring quality wind and solar resources to areas with high demand but also increase economic development and grid resilience as well as provide cost-savings for consumers.

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“Transmission may be the purest form of ‘infrastructure’ in a modern economy. The backbone transmission network supports all types of electricity production, and electricity supports every aspect of modern life, including increasingly transportation and all forms of commerce,” says Rob Gramlich, Executive Director of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid. “Transmission is finally in the conversation about infrastructure and for good reason. We do not have a functioning way to recover costs of the large-scale interregional transmission that we need, and it is an appropriate subject for infrastructure legislation. These projects can put people to work in the near term.”

The three projects in Arizona that were identified are:

• The Ten West Link project would build a new 114-mile transmission line connecting electrical substations in Arizona and California, facilitating the development of new renewable energy and energy storage resources in both states.

• The Southline Transmission Project would build a new 240-mile line between New Mexico and Arizona, and also upgrade 120 miles of existing Western Area Power Administration transmission lines.

• The SunZia Southwest Transmission Project consists of two bi-directional, 500kV electric transmission lines and substations that will transport energy 550 miles from New Mexico to customers in Arizona and markets across the Desert Southwest.

Currently, construction on these large projects has stalled, preventing many of the benefits of expanded transmission from being realized. In order for construction on these lines to commence, proper transmission policies relating to how long-range transmission is planned, paid for, and permitted must be passed. The report recommends the following policy changes:

• Passage of a transmission investment tax credit;

• Direct investment in new transmission lines, with the federal government serving as an “anchor tenant” customer;

• FERC using its authority to reform transmission planning and cost allocation; and

• Streamlining and expediting the permitting process.

“Just like the federal interstate highway system helped drive the growth of the American economy in the last half of the 20th Century, an interstate electricity transmission system is needed to power the American economy into the 21st Century,” says Michael Goggin, lead author and Vice President of Grid Strategies, LLC. “Over 1.2 million jobs can be created by building transmission lines to access untapped renewable resources, bringing sorely needed jobs and economic development to America’s rural areas. A stronger grid is also the best solution for preventing power outages, like the tragic events that affected Texas and other parts of the Central U.S. in February.”

“Expanding and upgrading our outdated transmission system, a central tenet of President Biden’s new American Jobs Plan, is an incredible economic opportunity for our nation,” says Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). “With smart transmission policies in place, we can put Americans back to work in good-paying jobs building a more reliable, efficient and carbon-free grid.”

The 22 proposed projects are described in detail in the report and depicted in the map below.

To read the new report, Transmission Projects Ready to Go: Plugging into America’s Untapped Renewable Resources, click here.

This report was commissioned by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid with support from the Macro Grid Initiative, a project of the American Council on Renewable Energy.