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Transmission and distribution investment looks positive

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Although smart grid technology vendors have been somewhat down about the investments that have been made in the smart grid in 2012, new data show the sector may be healthier than anyone thought, Smart Grid News reports.

According to the media outlet, a new survey from the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) found that last year, $30.3 billion was invested in transmission and distribution equipment, marking the best year ever for T&D spending. The survey also took a close look at where exactly utilities were spending this money.

A good majority of the funds were used to replace and upgrade the utility's existing transmission lines, build new lines and prepare existing infrastructure for much higher electricity loads, which are expected in the near future. These improvements took place in pockets all over the country, and have helped utilities ensure a more stable grid and introduce new energy sources, such as intermittent renewables, into the grid.

The money that was spent last year marks an 8.4 percent increase in T&D spending from 2010, and a 13 percent increase on distribution  alone.

The survey noted several correlations between the amount invested and the benefits reported by utilities, including how the improvements helped expedite development of automated meter infrastructure and other smart grid projects. Companies also said the money has helped them replace lines and make repairs that were caused by severe weather.

"Looking beyond 2011 the industry is projected to spend more than $94 billion on capital expenditures in 2012 ($13-$14 billion on transmission; $20 billion for distribution)," wrote Tom Kuhn, EEI president. "During the last 10 years, the industry's investment in transmission and distribution infrastructure has doubled."

EEI officials did make an effort to show that although the new numbers undoubtedly indicate there is some upward trend in T&D spending, there were also other factors at work. Distribution expenditures are especially linked to economic and population growth, which could be a partial reason for the jump in spending, while line restoration and repair costs due to weather damage can also skew spending data.

Whatever the reason is, utilities are clearly benefiting from increased spending. As utilities begin their smart grid improvement projects, many have turned to SUBNET for efficient installation of smart grid technologies, and installed SUBNET's software and hardware to run the most advanced substation servers on the market. 

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