Supported by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (“BIL”), the National Transmission Needs Study (“Needs Study”) provides information about capacity constraints and congestion on the nation’s electric transmission grid. Formally known as the National Electric Transmission Congestion Study (“Congestion Study"), this report functions as DOE’s triennial state of the grid report.
Whereas previous Congestion Studies were limited to consider only historic congestion, BIL expanded the scope of this study to consider both historic and anticipated future capacity constraints and transmission congestion that could affect consumers. The Needs Study is an assessment of data and results from power sector reports published in the last several years and focuses on near-term future needs by 2030 and 2035. This report is not meant to be a long-term planning study and does not do any additional modeling to prescribe specific transmission solutions.
The challenges facing America’s energy system have substantially shifted in the last one hundred years and will continue to evolve. Yet, today’s grid cannot adequately support 21st century challenges--including the integration of new clean energy sources and growing transportation and building electrification--while remaining resilient in the face of extreme weather exacerbated by climate change. The power grid is the backbone of the nation’s electricity system, and it must adapt to maintain reliability and resiliency.
Outreach and Engagement
The Needs Study was launched in January 2022 as part of DOE’s Building a Better Grid Initiative, which aims to catalyze the nationwide development of new and upgraded high-capacity transmission lines to create a more resilient electric grid. As part of the development of the Needs Study, DOE is required to engage with States, Tribes, and the regional grid entities to ensure regional, interregional, and national needs are met. A draft of the Needs Study was sent to these consultation entities in October 2022 and DOE received nearly 180 comments from 20 different consultation entities during the comment period.
The Needs Study was revised based on consultation entity feedback and released to the public for comment in February 2023. For more information on the comments received from consultation entities, see the Appendices of the Draft Needs Study. To see additional context, methodology, and data associated with information in the Draft Needs Study, view the Supplemental Material.
The public comment period closed on April 20, 2023. View the compilation of public comments.
Draft Needs Study Findings
Key findings of the draft Needs Study include the following:
- There is a pressing need for additional electric transmission infrastructure. Nearly all regions in the United States will benefit from improved reliability and resilience given additional investments. Regions with high electricity costs—notably the Plains, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New York, and California—will also benefit from transmission that delivers cost-effective generation.
- Increasing interregional transmission results in the largest benefits. Historically, the largest benefit in new interregional transfer capacity additions is between the three interconnection seams – between the Mountain and Plains regions and between Texas and all its neighbors (Southwest, Plains, and Delta regions). Large interregional transmission benefit is also found between the Plains and its two eastern neighbors, the Midwest and Delta regions.
- Needs will shift over time. The clean energy transformation, evolving regional demand, and increasingly extreme weather events must all be accommodated by the future power grid. Significant transmission deployment is needed as soon as 2030 in the Plains, Midwest, and Texas regions. By 2040, large deployments will also be needed in the Mountain, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions. The same is true for interregional transmission deployment; by 2040 there is a significant need for new interregional transmission between nearly all regions.