Powering Strong Communities

Department of Energy Seeks Feedback on Draft Transmission Needs Study


The Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office on Feb. 24 released a draft of a national transmission needs study for public comment and feedback.

Updated by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the study provides information about present and anticipated future capacity constraints and congestion on the nation’s electric transmission grid and serves as DOE’s triennial state of the grid report.

Findings of the Needs Study will provide public insight into areas of the power grid that would benefit from increased transmission capacity, DOE said.

In October 2022, an initial draft of the Needs Study was released to states, Tribes, and regional grid entities to ensure regional, interregional, and national perspectives are taken into consideration. DOE received nearly 180 comments from 20 different entities and that feedback has been incorporated into the second draft released last week. 

DOE said that key findings of the draft Needs Study include the following:

  • There is a pressing need for additional electric transmission infrastructure
  • Increasing interregional transmission results in the largest benefits
  • Needs will shift over time

DOE is requesting feedback on the Draft National Transmission Needs Study, specifically on the analysis used, conclusions, or any other comments or suggestions for improving the study.

Draft Study Enhances DOE Transmission Planning Efforts 

DOE launched the Needs Study in January 2022 as part of the Building a Better Grid Initiative, which aims to catalyze nationwide development of new and upgraded high-capacity transmission lines and support investments to modernize the flexibility of the distribution system to create a more resilient electric grid.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expanded a previous DOE state of the grid report, called the National Transmission Congestion Study, to consider both historic and anticipated future capacity constraints and congestion that could adversely affect consumers. The Needs Study contains no new modeling and is an assessment of existing data and the results from power sector reports published by a wide variety of sources in the last several years.  

The Needs Study is not a long-term planning study. The draft findings do not identify any particular transmission solution for the identified needs.

While the Needs Study is an input to the potential designation by DOE of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors under section 216 of the Federal Power Act, the draft Needs Study released does not designate or identify any specific NIETCs. Any such designation will occur in a future separate process. 

The Needs Study is one of two transmission studies that the Grid Deployment Office will release in 2023. The second is the National Transmission Planning Study, a national-scale, long-term (a 15- to 30-year) transmission planning analysis that will identify a portfolio of potential transmission solutions that will enable a national transition to clean energy production and delivery, DOE said.

The NTP Study will inform existing regional transmission planning processes and pinpoint strategies to accelerate decarbonization while maintaining system reliability.  This analysis will be scenario-based to provide visibility and needs for multiple future outcomes. 

The Grid Deployment Office intends to release the NTP Study in Winter 2023 and anticipates releasing the final Needs Study in Summer 2023. 

Public comments and questions about the draft Needs Study can be submitted by emailing [email protected]. Public comments must be submitted as an email attachment in PDF format.

All public comments are due 45 days from publication of the Needs Study notification in the Federal Register.

A public webinar will be held on March 3, 2023, from 1:30–2:45pm ET. Registration is required.