Major U.S. electric utilities spending increased to $40 billion in 2019 from $9.1 billion in 2000, according to federal officials.

transmission spend

U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) show the increased spending resulted from investments in transmission infrastructure, as well as operating and maintaining existing systems.

In 2019, $23.5 billion was spent on new transmission, up 1% over the previous year. According to the EIA, utilities spent $16.6 billion on transmission operation and maintenance in 2019, 7% more than in 2018. 

Most of the new transmission spending in 2019 consisted of investments in station equipment, poles and overhead power lines. Those investments aimed to replace aging infrastructure and improve grid reliability during extreme weather events. The new transmission also was designed to reduce congestion and connect to renewable resources.

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), covering most of the Midwest and some of the Gulf Coast, energized at least $3 billion worth of transmission infrastructure in 2019. Last year, MISO energized at least $2 billion worth of transmission infrastructure, EIA noted.

Minnesota Power last year energized the 224-mile, 500 kV Great Northern Transmission line to connect Minnesota to hydropower plants in Canada. California’s Pacific Gas & Electric Co. and Southern California Edison each spent more than $1 billion in 2019 on new transmission infrastructure primarily related to wildfire mitigation measures.

Meanwhile, in New Jersey, Public Service and Gas invested more than $1 billion in transmission infrastructure in 2019 after entering the second phase of its post-Superstorm Sandy Energy Strong program to improve the transmission system’s reliability throughout extreme weather

While FERC found that spending is plateauing, it still rose 3% in 2019 year/year.

According to the EIA, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a revision in its electric transmission incentive policy to stimulate developing infrastructure to support the nation’s evolving renewable generation resource mix, technological innovation, and shifts in load patterns.