Investing in our nation’s electric transmission system has the potential to create 450,000 U.S. jobs, according to a new report by The Brattle Group and WIRES. Manufacturing and construction of new lines and transmission facilities would create 150,000 to 200,000 full time U.S. jobs. An additional 130,000 to 250,000 jobs could be supported if transmission is expanded to facilitate development of renewable energy projects. Many large scale renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, and geothermal are constrained to locations far from existing transmission infrastructure.

These numbers are based on an estimated investment in U.S. transmission of $12 billion to $16 billion per year from 2011 to 2030—the level of investment projected if certain barriers related to regional planning , permitting, and cost allocation are removed. These barriers are due in part to the variation of approaches across different parts of the country and a lack of larger coordination at the regional or federal level.

"Build-out of our transmission infrastructure is one of the single most important investments our country can make because it will enable greater deployment of clean, cost-effective renewable energy," said Matt Johnson, policy associate at the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI). "While there's no question that the cost and location of new lines are big challenges, we must not lose sight of the overwhelming economic and environmental benefits that come with renewable energy infrastructure investments."

The study indicates that investment on the scale of $12-$16 billion a year would support a total of $30-$40 billion a year in total economic activity.

WIRES is partnering with EESI to hold a briefing on Capitol Hill on this report. The briefing will be held on Friday, July 15 and is open to the public. Information from presenters will be posted here after the briefing.