A Rocky Mountain Institute editorial highlights that the United States may be alone in lacking national- or continental-scale electric grid planning.

This creates problems particularly during high-stress events, like the winter storm that crushed Texas’ power supply, when an extra gigawatt could’ve saved a billion dollars and kept the lights on.

This also creates issues in scaling up renewable energy deployment. Intermittent production can be balanced across time and across geography, so electricity can flow where needed, or be purchased in places with strong clean energy targets but deficient supply.

But balkanized grid planning and operations means coordination is around regional load zones, and much less so the larger, nationwide whole.

Recent activity at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission suggests a trend toward more neighborly power grids.

Some questions at this stage include what extent a region’s power capacity should be exportable, and how costs should be allocated for inter-regional infrastructure links.

Coordination at the continental level may be just as beneficial, as the northeast has long been examining the possibility of importing more hydropower from Quebec. 

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