Building a Clean Electric Grid

Research and policy recommendations to remove the barriers
to new electric transmission capacity in the Northwest.

To stave off the worst effects of climate change, Cascadia has committed to harnessing unprecedented amounts of wind and solar power to generate electricity instead of burning coal and gas. At the same time, we are striving to “electrify everything” currently powered by fossil fuels, from vehicles to home heating systems.  

The problem? We don’t yet have the electric transmission capacity to fully realize these ambitions.  

With no real transmission plan and strong financial disincentives to investing in new regional power lines, Northwest utilities and the Bonneville Power Administration (which owns and operates 75 percent of the region’s high voltage lines), are hardly building much of anything. And transmission projects that do make it off the ground can take a decade or more to site, permit, and construct. Meanwhile, hundreds of proposed wind and solar projects are languishing for years waiting to connect to the grid.  

Sightline’s research and analysis provides Northwest leaders with guidance on getting to yes on critical new transmission lines at the clip the climate demands, without jettisoning the region’s commitment to environmental protection or respect of tribal rights.  

Get updates from Climate + Energy program director Emily Moore
Follow Emily at @_enmoore_
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Research and Analysis 

Power lines on a clear day in the middle of a (wheat?) field

Northwest States Need to Build New Power Lines, Fast

Otherwise, Oregon and Washington will miss critical climate targets.

Neighborhood Power’s Williams Acres community solar project outside Woodburn, OR. Courtesy of Energy Trust of Oregon.

The Northwest Needs More Midsize Solar

While distributed solar can’t solve the region’s transmission woes alone, Idaho and Washington would be smart to follow Oregon’s lead in boosting it for a cleaner future.

The Big 3 Barriers to New Transmission Lines

Transmission lines across the highway with a mountain in the background

Planning: Why Is It So Hard to Build New Transmission Lines?

For starters, Cascadia has no plan.

Photo of transmission lines on a clear day over dry fields

Paying: Who Will Pay for Cascadia’s Transmission Lines?

The multibillion-dollar question that Senator Maria Cantwell, Governor Jay Inslee, and other Northwest leaders can help answer.

Permitting: Is the Permitting Process for Transmission Lines Really Broken?

Analyzing three common claims of malfunction, plus proposing a new, faster way forward for the Northwest.

Get updates from Climate + Energy program director Emily Moore

Follow Emily at @_enmoore_

* indicates required