Rural Nerds: Top 10 Research Countdown Continues


By Marie Powell, former staff member

This week our Top 10 Rural Research Reports countdown continues. In week two of our #tbt Throwback Thursday series, we focus on our first in-depth report on renewable energy and transmission.

Turns out, it was the first of many, ongoing to this day. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Drumroll. please, for number nine.

#9 Connect the Dots: Transmission and Rural Communities

by Johnathan Hladik, 2011

Connect the Dots was the first in a series of continuing reports examining the potential of renewable energy and transmission for small towns and rural communities. It looked at the aging electric grid, the regulatory climate for energy, and the economic impact of an expanded grid for rural regions rich in renewable resources.

It is an excellent case of the Center “doing its homework” when venturing into a new area of work. Opening the door to renewable energy projects is bringing opportunity to rural communities across the nation.

Key Findings

  • A majority of transmission lines were constructed 30-50 years ago. Approximately 60% of circuit breakers and 70% of transformers were over 25 years old in 2011 and continue to age.
  • In 2011, over 275,000 MW of new wind projects remained unconnected due to a lack of available transmission.
  • Power from conventional coal sources cost $68 per megawatt-hour, while power generated from wind projects built in high-resource areas cost $65 per megawatt-hour back then. The advantage is even greater now.
  • With adequate transmission, up to 40% of electricity demand could be met by wind without adversely impacting grid reliability.

You can see Connect the Dots: Transmission and Rural Communities here.