The TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy has awarded four research grants totaling $1.2 million to Stanford University researchers for smart power grid related studies. One of the four grants went to a PESD-led project that will help regulators overcome barriers to the development of electricity transmission lines needed to facilitate renewable energy deployment. At present, the lack of adequate transmission infrastructure makes it difficult to connect generators in regions with rich wind or solar potential to major population centers.
One of the biggest challenges in the current transmission planning process is accurately characterizing the benefits of transmission lines to build a case for their development. "Our research will develop key analytical tools to help regulators and policymakers assess the economic and environmental benefits of transmission expansions to support renewable generation," Wolak said. Such tools can ultimately be built in to grid planning, expansion, and pricing methodologies.