Three Major Transmission Projects to Break Ground in 2023, 2024

By Christian Roselund

A new analysis by Bloomberg finds that three major U.S. transmission projects to bring electricity from wind and solar installations to population centers will begin construction in 2023 and 2024: the SunZi, TranWest Express, and Grain Belt Express. A fourth project, New York’s Champlain Hudson transmission line to bring hydroelectric power from Canada to New York City, began construction in late 2022. These represent some of the first large-scale transmission projects to break ground in decades, but experts including the U.S. Department of Energy say that more transmission is
still needed.

Many studies have shown that as the U.S. electric grid transitions to wind and solar, more transmission in new locations will be needed to move power from solar and wind farms to population centers. Additionally, reservoir hydropower can provide flexible power during extended periods of low wind and solar resources and facilitate the integration of higher levels of wind and solar. But this only works if there are sufficient electrical interconnections to move electricity from hydro dams
to load centers.

The three that have not yet begun construction are still running a gauntlet of permits. The SunZia project has had to seek approval from 10 federal agencies, five state agencies in New Mexico and Arizona, and nine local authorities. It has acquired most of these permits, but as of January 2023 was still obtaining the final permits needed.

NameDeveloperCapacityLengthYear ProposedConstruction to Begin
Champlain HudsonBlackstone Group1.25 GW339 miles20102022
SunZiaPattern Energy3 GW515 miles20082023 (projected)
TransWest ExpressAnschutz Corporation1.5-3 GW (varies by segment)732 miles20082023 (projected)
Grain Belt ExpressInvenergy5 GW530 miles20112024 (projected)

Invenergy has sought a loan guarantee from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for the Grain Belt Express, and as part of this process is waiting on the results of an environmental impact statement being prepared by DOE.

News coverage: Billion-Dollar Power Lines Finally Inching Ahead to Help US Grids (Bloomberg)