The ASCE report has been pure crap every single year, and I'm not sure why anyone even pays attention to it anymore. It is concocted by a trade group of engineers whose paychecks depend on the need to build more infrastructure every year. If anyone got an "A," there would be a lot of engineers in the unemployment line because there would be little need to build more infrastructure. This report is sort of like if Hershey's issued an annual report on the need for chocolate, and the report was authored by women. We know that a day without chocolate is like a day without hope, so therefore we need chocolate every.single.day. And talk about your coincidences, Hershey's sells chocolate (not the best chocolate, but when a chocolate emergency strikes, it's better than a bag of Skittles). The ASCE report is self-serving dreck designed for doomsayers and vapid public officials without an expert staff to tell them the truth about infrastructure.
Speaking of telling the truth, it probably isn't real good for business if an energy lawyer actually tells the truth. But yet, Huntoon persists. His clients must be brave souls. Gotta admire that!
Huntoon says everything in the ASCE report is wrong. That's a pretty wide characterization, but sadly it's true. It starts with this:
For starters, there is this claim: “With more than 640,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines across the three interconnected electric transmission grids … the lower 48 states’ power grid is at full capacity, with many lines operating well beyond their design.”
The fact is that 0 (zero) transmission lines are being operated beyond their design capacity. The grid has been and continues to be designed and constructed to cover projected peak demand years in advance. And every line is operated within its design limits. The ASCE claim is alarmist and wrong.
And then Huntoon tears up the ASCE claim that lack of new infrastructure causes blackouts.
The ASCE habitually conflates the transmission system with the distribution system. Most outages are due to faults on the distribution system, not the transmission system. When the rare transmission failure happens, though, more customers may be affected. But transmission is designed to provide contingencies in the event of transmission failure -- loads are switched to other transmission lines and we don't even notice a problem has occurred. The distribution system lacks this kind of contingency, so if a tree falls on the line serving your neighborhood, you're in the dark.
What we may need to do is make upgrades to the distribution system, which is sorely neglected by investor-owned utilities who would rather put their cash in the transmission system because it pays higher returns on invested capital. So we've got utilities pursuing expensive transmission lines to nowhere, while distribution lines are rotting on the pole.
The ASCE report card is an industry-influenced, uninformative, biased joke. Huntoon suggests that we give the ASCE report a D+. I think that's much too generous. I give them a U for useless.