The challenges facing the Nation’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.

On October 30, 2023, DOE released the National Transmission Needs Study. The full report is available here.

The National Transmission Needs Study (Needs Study) is an assessment of existing data and current and near-term future transmission needs through 2040. The Needs Study is an assessment of publicly available information and more than 120 recently published reports that consider historic and anticipated future needs given a range of electricity demand, public policy, and market conditions. The Needs Study is not intended to displace existing transmission planning processes and is not intended to identify specific transmission solutions to address identified needs, but it does identify key national needs that can inform investments and planning decisions.  

Formerly known as the National Electric Transmission Congestion Study (Congestion Study), the Needs Study serves as DOE’s triennial state of the grid report and fulfills a Congressional requirement to conduct assessments of national electric transmission capacity constraints and congestion not less frequently than once every 3 years. Whereas previous Congestion Studies were limited to consider only historic transmission constraints and congestion, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) expanded the scope of this Study to consider both historic and anticipated future capacity constraints and transmission congestion that could adversely affect consumers. 

The challenges facing the Nation’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.

Key findings of the Needs Study include the following:

1. There is a pressing need for additional transmission infrastructure. 

Nearly all regions in the United States would gain improved reliability and resilience from additional transmission investments. Some regions have acute reliability and resilience needs which additional transmission deployment can address. 

Areas of several regions endure consistently high prices, most notably in the Plains, Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, New York, and California. Additional transmission to bring cost-effective generation to demand in these high-priced locations would help lower prices. 

Regions with historically high levels of within-region congestion — the Northwest, Mountain, Texas, and New York regions in particular — as well as regions with unscheduled flows that pose reliability risks — California, Northwest, Mountain, and Southwest regions — need additional, strategically placed transmission deployment to reduce this congestion.

2. Increasing interregional transmission results in the largest benefits. 

Historically, the largest benefit in new interregional transfer capacity additions is between the three interconnections – between the Mountain and Plains, Texas and Delta, Southwest and Texas, and the Plains and Texas regions. 
Large interregional transmission benefit is also found between the Plains and Midwest and between the Plains and Delta regions.

3. 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 within-region 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. In 2030 large relative deployments are needed between the Delta and Plains, Midwest and Plains, and between the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions. By 2040 there is a significant need for new interregional transmission between nearly all regions.

National Transmission Needs Study and Supplemental Material

On October 30, 2023, DOE released the National Transmission Needs Study. For additional context and information regarding Study methodology and data, please refer to the Supplemental Material.

Regional and U.S. Fact Sheets

Appendix A of the Needs Study includes 15 fact sheets highlighting transmission needs identified in the Study at both the regional and National levels. The fact sheets can be found below:

Frequently Asked Questions

Read the FAQs to learn more.

Outreach and Engagement

In October 2022, DOE released a draft of the Needs Study to the states, Tribes, and regional grid entities which DOE was statutorily required to consult with during the Needs Study drafting process (consultation draft Study). States, Tribes, and regional entities received a copy of the consultation draft Study and were given a 30-day period to provide comments.
 
During the comment period DOE hosted a series of six audience-specific informational webinars and DOE staff made themselves availability for phone calls and meetings to provide further information. Over the course of the 30-day consultation comment period, DOE received nearly 180 unique comments from 20 different consultation entities. The received consultation comments and DOE’s response to each are provided in Appendix A-2 of the public draft Study (see below for Draft Needs Study Materials).

In February 2023, DOE released an updated draft National Transmission Needs Study for public comment and feedback (public draft Study). DOE requested feedback on the analysis used, gaps, conclusions, or any other comments or suggestions for improving the public draft Study and accepted public comments over the course of a 45-day public comment period, which closed on April 20, 2023. In March 2023, GDO hosted a webinar providing an overview of the public draft Study.

Draft Needs Study Materials

On February 24, 2023, DOE released a public draft Study for public comment and feedback. For additional context and information regarding Study methodology and data, please refer to the public draft Study Supplemental Material.

For more information on the comments received from consultation entities over the course of the consultation comment period, please refer to the Appendices of the public draft Study

On March 3, 2023, GDO hosted a webinar providing an overview of the public draft Study. A link to the public draft Study webinar presentation and a transcription of the webinar are available.

A compilation of public comments received over the course of the public comment period is provided. A public comment synthesis and discussion of DOE revisions to the Needs Study in response to comments received during the public comment period can be found in Appendix B of the Needs Study (see above for link).
 

Previous Congestion Studies

Learn more about and read the previous National Electric Transmission Congestion Studies:

Please submit any inquiries on the Needs Study to NeedsStudy.Comments@hq.doe.gov.