Current and anticipated changes in the patterns of electric power production and consumption drive the demand for new transmission lines to help get lower-cost power from generators to consumers. The biggest changes in power production have come from growth in renewable power supplies, so the expansion of transmission is seen as critical to the growth of renewable power. But siting transmission lines is tough in the best of cases; most of the time it seems nearly impossible to get new major transmission projects built.
The Texas CREZ process – a long-term effort to identify opportunities to develop additional renewable energy resources in the state by supporting expansion of the ERCOT grid to enable delivery of power into the state’s largest population centers – has frequently been seen as a model of sorts. At least compared to similar ideas elsewhere, the CREZ lines are moving forward through regulatory and legal processes and beginning to be built.