Doubling Grid Capacity with Advanced Technology

Advanced reconductoring replaces old power lines with high-performance conductors to double grid capacity quickly and cost-effectively. This enhances grid reliability, supports clean energy, and, when paired demand response programs, reduces the need for polluting peaker plants, paving the way for a sustainable energy future.
May 29, 2024

Electricity powers almost everything we do—from the smartphones in our pockets to the electric cars on our roads. Even the pumps for gasoline and diesel use electricity.  With power demand rising and the increasing need to address climate change, our grid is under huge pressure. Enter advanced reconductoring, a game-changing solution that can boost our grid’s capacity and pave the way for a cleaner, more reliable energy future.

This innovative technique involves replacing old transmission lines with high-performance conductors, quickly and efficiently boosting our grid's capacity without the expense and delays of building new infrastructure, like the huge towers used. Constructing new infrastructure can be extremely costly and is often subject to long permitting and regulations processes, which can delay projects for years. With advanced reconductoring, grid capacity can be updated with less time and cost. The importance of modernizing our grid is underscored by recent efforts from the federal government. The White House has announced new initiatives to modernize America's electrical infrastructure, aiming to reduce outages and increase transmission capacity to support more clean energy integration. Let’s dive into the benefits of advanced reconductoring and how it can support demand response programs, ultimately leading us to a cleaner, more efficient energy future.

How Advanced Reconductoring Works

Reconductoring, which means replacing old cables with new, high-performance ones, is a smart, cost-effective way to increase grid capacity. These advanced conductors are made from stronger, lighter composite cores and denser aluminum, enabling them to carry up to twice the electricity compared to traditional cables. Utilities in the U.S. and around the globe have already reaped the benefits, putting new conductors on existing towers without buying anybody’s land.

What is an advanced conductor
(Energy Innovation)

For example, Nevada's NV Energy and Southern California Edison have utilized advanced reconductoring to increase capacity and reduce wildfire risks, because the new lines do not sag as low as the old lines, even on the same old towers. Back in 2005, Minnesota’s Xcel Energy doubled the transmission capacity in Minneapolis-St. Paul, in just eight weeks, using advanced conductors.

The benefits are huge. A recent report from Energy Innovation, GridLab, and UC Berkeley found that reconductoring can double existing transmission line capacity in 18 to 36 months, without the need for new, expensive infrastructure changes. This could save consumers $85 billion, quadruple our rate of transmission capacity expansion, and help us hit a target of 90% clean energy by 2035.

Advanced Reconductoring and Demand Response Programs  

One of the significant advantages of advanced reconductoring is that it can be seamlessly paired with demand response programs like Meltek’s. Demand response programs give residential and commercial customers the opportunity to reduce their energy consumption during peak times, boosting grid reliability and preventing overloads that could lead to widespread blackouts. Advanced reconductoring can be implemented in conjunction with demand response efforts to be even more effective in boosting grid capacity.

Plus, by increasing transmission capacity, we can cut back on the need for local peaker plants—those costly, fossil-fuel-powered facilities that kick in during high demand so additional power can be brought into urban areas. Peaker plants are not only expensive but also heavy polluters. Advanced reconductoring helps the grid manage higher loads more efficiently, reducing our reliance on peaker plants and supporting a cleaner energy future.

Paving the Way to a Stronger Grid

Advanced reconductoring might not solve all our grid problems, but it offers a crucial short-term fix. By increasing the capacity of our current grid, we can save billions, integrate more renewable energy, and tackle climate change. When paired with long-term plans like building new battery storage and making the grid more resilient to extreme weather, advanced reconductoring can play a key role in creating a sustainable energy future.

Moving forward, we need a mix of innovative technology, smart policies, and strategic planning. By adopting advanced reconductoring and coupling it with demand response programs like Meltek, we can develop a grid that’s not only strong and reliable but also capable of supporting a cleaner, greener future for all.