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Interconnection Seams Study

Through the Interconnection Seams Study, NREL joins national lab, university, and industry partners to identify cost-effective options for upgrading the U.S. electric grid to create a more integrated power system that can drive economic growth and increase efficient development and utilization of the nation's abundant energy resources, including solar, wind, and natural gas.

Map of the continental United States that reflects major power system regions and the strong solar resource across the South and Southwest and strong wind resources primarily in Texas and the Great Plains states.

Stitching together the major regions of the U.S. power system, represented here conceptually, could enhance the ability to harness abundant renewable resources and balance loads across the country.

Strengthening the U.S. Power System

The three major components of the U.S. power system—the Western Interconnection, the Eastern Interconnection, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas—operate almost independently of each other. Very little electricity is transferred between the interconnections.

This study — a regional partnership under the U.S. Energy Department's Grid Modernization Initiative — will quantify the value of strengthening the connections (or seams) between the regions to encourage efficient development and utilization of U.S. energy resources. We will also assess the degree to which interconnection can facilitate a more reliable, resilient, sustainable, and affordable U.S. electricity system.

Our Approach

To quantify the value of enhancing the U.S. interconnection seams, the study team will analyze a suite of power system futures. We will utilize and analyze results from three classes of power system models: long-term capacity expansion, yearlong production cost, and AC power flow. The end result: in-depth insight on the economic, environmental, reliability, and resiliency benefits of the study scenarios.

Research Team

Technical Review Committee

Representatives from more than 30 utilities, power system operators, and industry organizations are helping guide this study by helping to define the study questions and methods and reviewing findings. We welcome input and involvement from all power system stakeholders.

  • Alberta Independent System Operator
  • Basin Electric Power Company
  • Black Hills Energy
  • Energy Exemplar
  • El Paso Electric
  • Electric Power Research Institute
  • Electric Reliability Council of Texas
  • Great River Energy
  • Hydro Quebec
  • Independent System Operator of Ontario
  • LS Power
  • Manitoba Hydro
  • Minnesota Power
  • National Grid
  • National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • NB Power
  • NextEra
  • NS Power
  • Public Service Company of New Mexico
  • SaskPower
  • SDG&E
  • Solar Energy Industry Association
  • Transcanyon
  • Tri-State Generation and Transmission
  • Utility Variable Generation Integration Group
  • Western Electricity Coordinating Council
  • Xcel Energy

Contact

Aaron Bloom
Email | 720-402-2065