Despite identification of areas in which transmission capacity is limited, a “not in my backyard” (or anyone else’s, in some cases) attitude toward new transmission line siting has resulted in cancellation or delay of some new transmission lines.
For example, in 2011, PJM cancelled the proposed Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline (PATH) project, a 275-mile transmission line that would have run through West Virginia, Virginia, and Maryland to deliver electricity into Northern Virginia. Although the line was designed to improve reliability in eastern PJM, changing forecasts of electricity demand growth and intense opposition to siting the line led to the project’s cancellation.
Hey, remember this? PATH's talking heads insisted that opposition had nothing to do with PATH's cancellation.
But, history says it did.
While the article's conclusions are pretty screwed up, it does a nice job explaining the bulk power system and federal regulation thereof. It's a good "backgrounder" for folks new to the transmission world. Think about how much more reliable our system would be though, if we brought back the "islands" of the past and operated them as smaller parts of the bigger system (aka "microgrids").
Beginning in the late 1920s, electric utilities began to integrate their operations to improve reliability and reduce costs. Previously, utilities had operated as “islands,” meeting the demand for electricity solely from their own generating plants. To ensure reliable service, this meant building extra generating capacity to keep in reserve, in case unexpected problems caused their plants to shut down. By integrating their operations, utilities could provide more reliable service without building as much backup generating capacity. In essence, if a generating plant at Utility A suffered a forced outage, one of Utility B’s generators would be available to ensure the lights stayed on. The concept is similar to diversifying a financial portfolio. Instead of investing everything into just one company’s stock, buying multiple stocks, bonds, and other investments reduces the risk of a sudden financial loss.
Building more transmission lines isn't the answer. The answer is a more democratic electric grid system that benefits consumers and local communities, not gigantic, investor-owned utility holding companies.