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The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has released a report highlighting the economic opportunity associated with infrastructure investment and the cost of failing to fill the investment gap. The report, titled "Failure to Act: The Impact of Current Infrastructure Investment on America's Future," says electric transmission is a key area in which the nation is falling short.

The total impact on the economy of the investment gap in several key infrastructure areas, says ASCE, will be job losses of 3.5 million by 2020 - with a projected cumulative loss of $3.1 trillion in economic output over the same period if an additional $1.1 trillion is not devoted to infrastructure projects.

The Working group for Investment in Reliable and Economic electric Systems (WIRES), a nonprofit trade association representing the transmission industry, has praised the ASCE for releasing the report.

"The ASCE report is a solid contribution to our understanding of what the nation needs and how important it is for policymakers to help," says Jim Hoecker of Husch Blackwell LLP and counsel to WIRES. “The money - largely from private capital markets - is here, willing and waiting to be spent if the business and regulatory risks can be mitigated.

“Transmission equipment manufacturing and construction alone could create as many [as] 200,000 good jobs annually if projected demand for wires and substations is met,” Hoecker adds.  “That’s a boon to local and state economies at a time when cities and counties are looking for revenues to meet basic needs.”

“Infrastructure is the most important thing you never think about,” says Don Clevenger of Oncor and the new WIRES president. “ASCE has called attention to the possible economic after-effects of failing to make sufficient investments in a part of the economy that few policymakers think about. Investing in strategic assets like the electric grid is critical to deployment of smart technologies, higher levels of reliability, our ability to access domestic clean energy resources, and strong economic growth.”

The full ASCE report can be downloaded here.



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