The latest update from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, released on Thursday, reveals the true cost of energy transmission and distribution in the United States.
It shows that transmission is still a high-risk investment that requires a lot of capital and is a cost that could easily be passed on to consumers, according to a summary of the study.
“There’s a lot that can go wrong with transmission, particularly when the transmission line is not the sole source of electricity,” said Brian Laughlin, director of the energy program at the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
Energy transmission is a risky business, Laughlin said.
If the transmission system is inefficient, there is no incentive for consumers to use it, he said.
The new study finds that in the early days of the internet, people were mostly using it for internet and cell phone service.
That has changed since then.
The amount of power that a household gets from a transmission line dropped from a low of 9 percent in 2004 to a high of 10 percent in 2011.
This drop in use was largely due to the advent of cheap natural gas.
That means there’s more natural gas to supply the system, which means less cost to consumers.
That’s a net benefit, Lauglesaid.
That same year, about a quarter of the nation’s electricity came from the transmission network, according the National Energy Board.
That number rose to 48 percent in 2017, according a report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The NREL report also found that transmission capacity grew from about 2,600 megawatts in 2004-2005 to 4,200 megawatts by 2017, an increase of nearly 300 megawatts.
The report notes that the current capacity for transmission is not large enough to provide the grid with enough power to meet all of its needs.
There is a “need for a new source of generation that can replace fossil fuels in a manner that is economically feasible,” said Steven C. Cohen, director for grid operations at the NREL.
The NERC said it is working with industry to develop an infrastructure that can handle the additional power.
Cohen said it’s likely that the next generation of transmission technology will use more efficient materials and that the grid will get more efficient with time.