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EEI Celebrates National Infrastructure Week

This week, EEI and our member companies—America's investor-owned electric companies—join other industries, organizations, and citizens in celebrating National Infrastructure Week, an initiative that highlights the vital importance of infrastructure for our nation's economy and society.

The energy grid is vital to the life, health, and safety of all Americans, and it is critical to the economic and national security of the nation. To ensure that we can meet our customers’ needs, EEI member companies invest more than $100 billion each year to make the energy grid smarter, stronger, cleaner, more dynamic, and more secure; to diversify the nation’s energy mix; and to integrate new technologies that benefit customers. 

Read on for key facts about the smarter energy infrastructure that electric companies are deploying, and learn about how our member companies #BuildForTomorrow in this ​Electric Perspectives​ column​ by Brian Wolff, EEI executive vice president, public policy and external affairs.

Electric Companies Lead on Building Smarter Energy Infrastructure for Customers
Numbers to Know
Numbers to Know
Key Facts About Electric Companies' Infrastructure Investments

EEI's member companies operate energy infrastructure of breathtaking scale and complexity. Smarter energy infrastructure is key to building America’s energy future and to giving customers the energy solutions they want. 

EEI’s member companies invested a projected $127 billion in 2018—investments that are vital to ensure that customers have the reliable, affordable, secure, and increasingly clean energy they need. This is the industry’s seventh consecutive year of record-high capital expenditures. EEI’s member companies have invested nearly $1 trillion in smarter energy infrastructure in the last decade.

These investments are crucial to delivering the energy future that customers want, and they underscore the critical role that electric companies play in the prosperity of every state and community in the nation. As an industry, we support more than 7 million jobs across the country—about 1 out of every 20 jobs. We are responsible for $865 billion of our nation’s GDP—about 5 percent.

Our member companies already are making significant strides in carbon reduction, deployment of renewables, transportation electrification, and more. Among large industrial sectors, we are far and away out ahead as we work to deliver—and to lead—America’s energy future.

Delivering Innovation
Delivering Innovation
Exploring the Benefits of Smarter Energy Infrastructure

​Across the nation, EEI’s member companies are leading a profound transformation of the nation’s energy. Here are just a few ways in which electric companies’ investments in smarter energy infrastructure are paying off for the customers and communities they serve.

Integrating Clean Energy

Diversifying the nation’s energy resources is a major focus of electric companies’ infrastructure investments—and, over the past decade, our nation’s energy mix has changed dramatically. Today, more than one-third of our electricity comes from carbon-free sources, including nuclear energy and hydropower and other renewables. And, since 2005, the percentage of renewable sources in the energy mix has quadrupled—over the past five years, more than half of new electricity generation capacity was wind and solar.

At the end of 2018, the electric power sector’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were 27 percent below a 2005 baseline, nearly the lowest level in three decades and lower than the transportation sector since 2016. This impressive trend is expected to continue, as many EEI member companies have announced significant voluntary commitments to further reduce CO2 emissions by 2030 and 2050, many of which aim to reduce emissions 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. Find out more in EEI's infographic​.

Smart Meters

Electric companies are investing significantly in smart meter infrastructure, and, to date, more than 85 million digital smart meters have been deployed across the country. Smart meters are a critical component of a smart grid, giving customers greater control and flexibility over their energy use; allowing electric companies to respond to and fix outages more quickly; connecting more clean energy resources efficiently; and better securing energy infrastructure against cyber and physical security threats, including natural disasters. 

Transportation Electrification

EEI’s member companies are investing more than $1 billion in customer programs and projects to deploy charging infrastructure and to accelerate electric transportation. Electric transportation saves customers money, benefits the environment, and enhances quality of life for everyone. Electrifying transportation benefits all customers by increasing and optimizing the use of the energy grid and enhancing the integration of renewable energy resources. In addition to electric vehicles (EVs), electrification is taking hold in public transit, delivery vehicles, ridesharing applications, ports and airports, and more. As of April 2019, there are more than 1.1 million EVs on U.S. roads. Find more about the benefits of electric transportation in EEI’s factsheet.

Smart, Resilient Communities

Modernizing the energy grid is essential to integrating the many new technologies—including EVs, energy storage, microgrids, smart appliances, and more—that are part of the data-driven smart communities being built across America. Smart communities use data and technology to help drive efficiencies, improve sustainability, spur economic development, and enhance the quality of life for their citizens. Discover more about electric companies’ role in smart communities in EEI’s factsheet and this snapshot.

Electric companies' investments also are critical to further enhancing the resiliency of the energy grid. Ongoing investments are key to deploying advanced digital technologies, upgrading power lines and substations, hardening the system against severe weather, and enhancing cyber and physical security. Learn more in EEI’s factsheet

Policy Perspectives
Policy Perspectives
EEI Report Highlights Vital Importance of Transmission Investment

​A significant portion of the investments electric companies make each year is dedicated to electric transmission. As EEI’s report, Smarter Energy Infrastructure: The Critical Role and Value of Electric Transmission, states: “Electric transmission is a critical part of the energy grid and is about more than just delivering electricity. A robust transmission system enables electric companies to integrate more renewable energy resources and to deliver more clean energy to customers; enhances the reliability and resiliency of the grid; enables the deployment of new technologies; optimizes the grid’s performance and lowers the cost of delivering energy by reducing congestion; and helps to keep electricity bills low for customers.”

The report highlights the critical role of electric transmission in the energy grid; outlines the benefits transmission provides for electricity customers; offers case studies of electric companies’ transmission projects; and provides crucial data for policymakers and other key stakeholders as they make important decisions related to infrastructure, energy, and environmental policy.

Investments in electric transmission create value for customers and communities. “This investment in smarter energy infrastructure is helping achieve a shared vision of a smart, secure, and increasingly clean energy system that works to the benefit of all customers,” the report states. “Reaching the full potential of a modernized energy grid requires ongoing investment.”

Read more​.

In the News
In the News
Edison Award Finalists Showcase Smarter Energy Infrastructure Concepts

​An independent panel of reviewers has selected The AES Corporation, Arizona Public Service Company, Edison International/Southern California Edison, Tennessee Valley Authority, and Xcel Energy as finalists for this year’s U.S. Edison Award. Jemena Electricity Network and UK Power Networks were named finalists for the International Edison Award. Since 1922, the Edison Award has recognized electric companies for their distinguished leadership, innovation, and contribution to the advancement of the electric power industry. The Edison Award is regarded as the industry's most prestigious honor. 

A common theme unites the finalists and their innovative energy solutions: their commitment to developing, deploying, and using smarter energy infrastructure to benefit customers.

  • ​The AES Corporation—In December 2018, AES made history by bringing the world’s largest operational solar-plus-storage system online, creating a new model for stabilizing large-scale renewable energy. Designed for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, this first-of-its-kind DC (direct current)-coupled solution, dubbed “the PV Peaker Plant,” fully integrates photovoltaic cells and storage at unprecedented scale to transform variable renewable energy generation into safe, reliable, and readily dispatchable power. This project will deliver roughly 11 percent of the island’s power, bringing Hawaii one step closer to achieving its goal of being powered by 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.
  • Arizona Public Service Company—Arizona Public Service Company (APS) invested in a battery system rather than traditional line upgrades to address load growth in a rural area of Northeast Arizona. The non-wires alternative project was the most cost-effective option to increase electric reliability and offer additional capabilities for the remote community of Punkin Center, AZ. APS’s investment demonstrates the advantages a battery-based system can sometimes provide over traditional wires solutions, while also reframing the discussion around how best to serve new customers in hard-to-reach rural areas.
  • Edison International/Southern California Edison—Recognizing how data could improve the delivery of safe and reliable electricity, Edison International/Southern California Edison (SCE) transformed its smart meter operations into a digitized Reliability Operations Center (ROC). This enables SCE to scan its service territory of approximately 700,000 transformers continuously to monitor for everything from downed wires to equipment failures. This has resulted in increased productivity, while reducing outage times and safety risks for the public and SCE crews. In 2018 alone, SCE estimates this program avoided nearly 500,000 minutes of customers experiencing power interruption. To date, the algorithm has detected more than 40 cases of electrical faults, 75 percent of which were identified within approximately seven minutes of the incident.
  • Tennessee Valley Authority—The Tennessee Valley Authority developed a new safety dashboard that allows its workforce to monitor safety statistics, as well as quickly identify and correct negative safety trends in real-time. Developed in-house, the dashboard uses customizable filters to generate data that are used by employees, contractors, and external union representatives to help ensure worker safety at all levels. 
  • Xcel Energy—Xcel Energy is leading efforts to routinely fly unmanned aircraft (or drones) beyond the operator’s visual line of sight. By using drones to assess storm damage and efficiently and cost-effectively inspect transmission lines, Xcel Energy is developing a way to provide better service for its customers. Through its partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration, Xcel Energy is working to develop and share lessons learned and best practices that would allow other electric companies to take advantage of this technology. 
  • Jemena—In response to increasing demands on its energy infrastructure, Australian-based Jemena Electricity Network partnered with the Victorian Government to establish a voluntary demand response (DR) trial—Power Chargers—to find cost-effective solutions to reduce peak demand. During the summer of 2018, this technology-led, community program empowered residential customers to make informed decisions about their energy usage, to earn incentives by participating in challenges, and to reduce their demand on the energy grid during peak times. During two specific DR challenges initiated by Jemena, the network found that, on average, participating households were able to reduce their peak energy consumption between 23 and 35 percent. 
  • UK Power Networks—UK Power Networks is leading Great Britain’s low-carbon energy transition by investing in smart grid and other innovative energy grid technologies. These investments in smarter energy infrastructure have saved customers $195 million since 2015, and UK Power Networks’ incentives for energy generation partners have facilitated the country’s ability to lower its carbon emissions. By listening to energy retailers and taking a customer-centric approach to its work, UK Power Networks is leading the way to the future with an energy grid that is ready for a low-carbon world.

A panel of former electric company chief executives will select the winners for the 91st annual Edison Award, which will be presented on June 10 at EEI 2019​ in Philadelphia.

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Future Focus
Future Focus
Our Public Policy Platform

​To build the smarter, stronger, cleaner, more dynamic, and more secure energy future that customers want and expect, electric companies must—and will—continue to make significant investments in smarter energy infrastructure. Public policies should:

  1. ​Promote investment in smarter energy infrastructure to keep energy bills low and predictable for customers.

  2. Expedite the process for permitting and siting energy infrastructure.

  3. Help to strengthen the energy grid’s resilience against cyber and physical security threats and natural disasters.

  4. Support a diverse, domestic energy mix.

  5. Increase research and development funding and support for the range of technologies needed to achieve clean energy goals, including energy efficiency, energy storage, renewables, existing and next-generation nuclear, other carbon-free technologies, and carbon capture utilization and storage. 

  6. Promote transportation electrification by modernizing federal transportation programs to encourage investments in electric transportation and charging infrastructure. 

  7. Promote the development of more robust battery technologies for both electric vehicles and energy storage.

EEI 2019
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