Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Electrical and Computer Engineering


Wind Energy Science, Engineering, and Policy; Electrical Engineering

First Advisor

James D. McCalley


Historically, the primary justification for building wide-area transmission lines in the US and around the world has been based on reliability and economic criteria. Today, the influence of renewable portfolio standards (RPS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, transmission needs, load diversity, and grid flexibility requirements drives interest in high capacity wide-area transmission. By making use of an optimization model to perform long-term (15 years) co-optimized generation and transmission expansion planning, this work explored the benefits of increasing transmission capacity between the US Eastern and Western Interconnections under different policy and futures assumptions. The model assessed tradeoffs between investments in cross-interconnection HVDC transmission, AC transmission needs within each interconnection, generation investment costs, and operational costs, while satisfying different policy compliance constraints. Operational costs were broken down into the following market products: energy, up-/down regulation reserve, and contingency reserve. In addition, the system operating flexibility requirements were modeled as a function of net-load variability so that the flexibility of the non-wind/non-solar resources increases with increased wind and solar investment. In addition, planning reserve constraints are imposed under the condition that they be deliverable to the load. Thus, the model allows existing and candidate generation resources for both operating reserves and deliverable planning reserves to be shared throughout the interconnections, a feature which significantly drives identification of least-cost investments. This model is used with a 169-bus representation of the North American power grid to design four different high-capacity wide-area transmission infrastructures. Results from this analysis suggest that, under policy that imposes a high-renewable future, the benefits of high capacity transmission between the Eastern and Western Interconnections outweigh its cost. A sensitivity analysis is included to test the robustness of each design under different future assumptions and approximate upper and lower bounds for cross-seam transmission between the Eastern and Western Interconnections.


Copyright Owner

Armando Luis Figueroa-Acevedo



File Format


File Size

127 pages