Reconductoring with Advanced Conductors Discussed at Grid Forward Conference

In a heavily attended in-person Grid Forward event, “Keeping Pace with the Energy Transition,” at the Bell Harbor Center in Seattle, Jay Caspary of Grid Strategies, Jeff Cook of the Bonneville Power Administration and Carolyn Barbash of NV Energy shared their thoughts on “How to Develop Western Markets with Advanced Transmission Solutions” during a panel session on Wednesday, April 20th.

During their panel session Mr. Caspary offered substantial insights and examples of using Advanced Conductors and other Grid Enhancing Technologies “GET’s” to quickly open up additional capacity on the existing grid network so more clean energy generation can interconnect to accelerate grid decarbonization. These opportunities for rapid grid decarbonization were also published in his recent Grid Strategies report: “Advanced Conductors on Existing Transmission Corridors to Accelerate Low Cost Decarbonization” (available here).

Ms. Barbash reflected on NV Energy’s 19 successful Advanced Conductor projects where ACCC® Conductor was selected. For projects that ‘reconductor’ existing transmission structures with Advanced Conductors to get more capacity from the existing power corridors she noted that reconductoring with Advanced Conductors has been “a great solution” for NV Energy. Mr. Cook pointed out that as a Federal Agency, Bonneville Power Authority (BPA) took more time to get through the testing and approval process for using Advanced Conductors, but he observed that he believed getting more from the existing power corridors by reconductoring with advanced conductors was an application that BPA would likely implement.

During the Q&A period, a question was asked about whether the industry could produce enough Advanced Conductors, if the reconductoring solution were adopted by a significant number of utilities. Matt Hutchison, who was attending the Grid Forward event representing CTC Global, a manufacturer involved in the supply of ACCC® Conductor, one of three Advanced Conductors available in the U.S., answered the audience question in the affirmative. “Most all of the Advanced Conductor technologies available for the U.S. market are manufactured by large experienced conductor manufacturers for which Advanced Conductor is an additional product line. Capacity is not a problem.” he added.

One of the participants was under the impression that Advanced Conductors were “about seven times more expensive than conventional steel reinforced conductors.” Mr. Hutchison later mentioned that a more accurate estimation for ACCC® Conductor is that it is roughly the same cost as conventional conductor on a per-amp unit of available capacity basis. And, even more importantly for decarbonization, ACCC® Conductor and the other composite-core Advanced Conductor technologies enable a much cheaper, faster solution for increasing grid capacity on the existing grid where existing structures can be used without modification or replacement.

Following the Grid Forward event, Mr. Caspary observed that “this event drew a lot of very smart people with great ideas. The key message I got from the event overall,” he noted, “was to move beyond pilot projects and get on with commercially deploying proven technology.”

During this session, one utility representative explained that over the years their average increase in demand was around 1% per year. More recently he explained that their annual growth rate now exceeds 5%. Considering that the U.S. DOE anticipates the need to increase the capacity of the existing grid by 60% by 2030, the use of Advanced Conductors makes tremendous sense.

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