- Investor-owned electric utilities and transmission companies invested a record $37.7 billion in transmission and distribution infrastructure in 2013, according to the just-released EEI Annual Property & Plant Capital Investment Survey from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).
- Capital expenditures on transmission totaled $16.9 billion in 2013, up 14.2% from 2012’s $14.8 billion investment. CapEx for electric distribution infrastructure in 2013 was $20.8 billion, up 3.5% from 2012’s $20.1 billion spending.
- Key factors for the increased transmission spending included new technologies to improve reliability, new infrastructure to ease congestion, interconnection of new generation, including renewables, and new infrastructure to support shale gas production. Distribution infrastructure investments were primarily driven by storm hardening and reliability improvements.
The new survey clearly reflects utilities’ contention that technology innovation is imposing the need for transmission and distribution system expenditures.
The U.S. electric transmission grid consists of more than 200,000 miles of high-voltage lines of 144 kilovolts or more. Its networked redundancy provides alternative power flows to protect reliability. Transmission investment is expected to continue growing, with $78.2 billion of new CapEx predicted to be added through 2017.
Investment in transmission and distributin has been higher in the last few years and is projected to remain high because of the increased need for technology to integrate new renewables, harden the system against natural disasters, and improve resiliency and security against cyberattacks.
The EEI survey does not include expenditures for operations and maintenance, or the acquisition of existing systems or segments. Its primary objective is the collection planned and budgeted electric transmission infrastructure investments over a five-year horizon. It is a complement to the EEI Property & Plant Capital Investment Survey.