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Grid Not Ready For Increased Demand For Renewables

Demand for renewable energy is too much for America's transmission lines

A number of large companies are driving the demand for renewable energy, and those same companies are calling for a major upgrade to the country's energy transmission lines, including Utah.

Fortune 500 companies are calling for a major upgrade to the country's energy transmission lines. According to the Wind Energy Foundation, large corporations are willing to purchase 60 gigawatts of renewable energy by 2025. That's about 110 conventional power plants.

John Kostyack, with the foundation, said with the current speed corporations are pursuing renewable energy, the demand outpaces what the country's current transmission lines can offer.

"We have the ability with today's technology to build a truly national grid,” Kostyack said. “Where we can reach wind and solar resources wherever they are in the country and deliver them anywhere else in the country, but it does require updating and modernizing our infrastructure."

The demand for renewable energy is on the rise because consumers want cleaner energy. But transmission developers say upgrading the infrastructure is not an easy task, and reliability is still a challenge when it comes to delivering wind and solar. Utah is one of the seven states with the best potential for solar power, along with Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Texas.

Rob Threlkeld, the global manager of renewable energy at General Motors, said they've recently announced their Texas, Ohio and Indiana facilities will be powered by 100 percent renewables coming from offsite wind.

"We really are looking at price stability as we look at our long-term planning for our manufacturing footprint,” Threlkeld said. “In doing so, there is going to be a point where we need additional transmission to really drive the efficiencies that bringing additional renewables to the grid allow when you look at cost and price stability."

Kostyack said only a few major transmission lines are moving in the right direction for the demand of renewable energy.