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A Framework for Sustainable Design of Overhead Transmission Lines

By Steve Walker and Buck Fife


To make a lasting impact on the sustainability of the electric transmission system, we need a holistic approach to planning, designing, constructing, operating, maintaining and retiring facilities. The approach needs to address not only today’s demands, but also consider the requirements of future generations. Such an approach considers impacts to individuals and their communities, incorporates knowledge of other projects and carefully considers the quantity and type of materials used. The approach also avoids or minimizes impacts to the natural environment and is resilient and flexible to accommodate changes in the future environment. The range of criteria and considerations can be extensive.

For the overhead line designer, this process cannot be tackled in a vacuum. It requires collaboration with a wide range of participants. This can include system planners, permitting specialists, right-of-way agents, material suppliers, constructors, system operators and external stakeholders, such as community leaders, landowners and other project planners or owners.

To help designers explore the impact of their decisions on the sustainability of transmission projects, the authors and other collaborators developed a tool called SustainEval. SustainEval is an online calculation tool that uses the Envision rating system as the basis of its calculation. A user interface allows transmission designers to enter common parameters into a worksheet and see the impact on a mock Envision score in real-time.

This paper provides an overview of the fundamental aspects of Sustainable Development, the Envision Rating System, and the SustainEval tool. It also discusses the application of these principles to a sample project.

This paper was presented at the 2017 CIGRE Grid of the Future Conference.

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