US President Biden’s plan to implement more infrastructure projects in this country is a step in the right direction. But this infrastructure plan is not just roads and bridges. This infrastructure plan includes dollars for high voltage transmission projects needed to integrate more renewable projects, which are needed to implement state and public policy goals. Hiring engineers via the H1B process would address the immediate need for high voltage engineers. In part 1 of this blog series, I will focus on transmission engineers. In part 2, the need for additional market systems and distribution planning engineers will be addressed. Specific focus on transmission in Biden’s PlanThere is a focus on transmission projects in the Biden plan. The plan allocates $100 billion for transmission project infrastructure improvements. However, it is not clear if $100 billion alone would suffice. It will take at least $25 billion to revamp the MISO transmission system, according to an estimate. This $25 billion-$100 billion may involve the actual construction of transmission projects in this country. There hasn’t been much focus yet on the transmission planning engineers needed to model the system and run detailed load flow studies to make the business case for these projects. At the regional transmission organizations (RTO), transmission planning engineers first identify a need on the transmission system and then seek solutions to address that identified need via the stakeholder process. All this takes time. The RTO independent board of directors approves transmission projects. The construction process starts after the individual state Public Utility Commission (PUC) approves a new transmission line. Transmission projects, especially large voltage 345-kV and above, take at least 10 years from conceptual stage to actual construction. Hence the need for more engineers today to put together a business case on modeling the need for high voltage transmission projects.

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