Demand Drives Electric Power Developments

Steven Miller, PE, MBA, AVP and Manager of GAI’s Power Delivery Market Sector joins us as a guest blogger to talk about market trends and demands in the electrical transmission line market.

As outlined in a recent article, electric generation and transmission has progressed dramatically over the past 125 years. Demand continues to rise as stakeholders evaluate renewable energy, aging infrastructure, safety, and reliability of all available power sources.

Our team has the privilege of working with many of the major players in this $49-billion electric power industry, and we see continued long-term demand, stability, and growth. GAI has partnered with major energy companies across Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin to design overhead and underground transmission lines and substations. These relationships and our technical experience provide a unique perspective on how regulations, alternative power sources, and technological developments can impact not only our clients, but consumers and the overall economy.

How long will this demand last? Due to the accessibility, capacity, and reliability of the power grid structure, the demand for electric power hasn’t slowed down since it was introduced back in the 1800s. We are now seeing the need to improve reliability, security, and efficiency to match the increasing demand growth of electrical transmission and distribution (T&D) across the globe. According to a report by Harris Williams & Co, “Utilities and developers are expected to make a significant level of investment to replace, upgrade, and expand T&D infrastructure over the next two decades that is a nearly three-fold increase over the previous two decades. In addition to the nearly $880 billion projected to be spent by utilities in the U.S. over the next 20 years, Canadian utilities are expected to invest nearly $100 billion over the same time period on T&D infrastructure.” We have already appreciated this trend, which has shown a 55% increase in T&D spending from 2010 to 2013 alone.

What challenges are ahead for this market? For stakeholders working in this market, congestion management in the grid system will be an important driver moving forward. As more power is demanded, the potential exists for an increase in power outages caused by power losses in the overhead transmission lines. This ultimately results in transmission congestion or the insufficient transmission capacity to accommodate an entire region’s power demand. We are working with our clients to implement technological developments in transmission grid technology to counteract this issue and provide solutions for the lasting demand.

GAI will continue to report on changes and trends in the electric power industry. Look for more updates on energy trends and developments in future blog posts by Steve Miller and other energy leaders throughout GAI. Steve can be reached at 412.476.2000.


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