Author: Alissa Bemis

NextGen Highways Launches National Coalition

Will accelerate efforts to co-locate transmission, communications infrastructure along highways to meet growing grid decarbonization and EVs

MINNEAPOLIS – May 4, 2023 –The NextGen Highways initiative has expanded into a national coalition advocating for new electric transmission and communications infrastructure to be co-located with one another in existing public rights-of-way (ROWs) to meet the rapidly growing demand for new renewable power, electric vehicles, and building electrification.

NextGen’s national coalition members (list updated 11/29/23)

National coalition members will help advance understanding among top federal regulators, including the US Departments of Energy and Transportation and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, as well as other key players regarding the benefits of co-locating new electric transmission and communications infrastructure in public ROWs alongside highways where some communications infrastructure already exists.  

“Having such a diverse group of organizations and experts in our coalition will accelerate our efforts to increase awareness and adoption of new electric transmission in existing public highway ROWs, which is the most efficient and environmentally sound pathway to reducing the backlog of needed clean power on the grid,” NextGen Highways Executive Director Randy Satterfield said.

“Expanding and upgrading the U.S. transmission grid at a pace necessary to meet climate goals will require exploring all available options to ease the permitting and siting of such needed infrastructure,” American Council on Renewable Energy President and CEO Gregory Wetstone said. “ACORE is pleased to join this broad coalition of organizations that recognize the potential for co-locating new transmission projects along existing highways and other rights-of-way.”

“The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) is pleased to collaborate with NextGen Highways in elevating the use of highway rights-of-way for co-locating communications and electric transmission infrastructure,” NASEO President David Terry said. “Use of existing public rights-of-way is a practical, expedient solution to helping State Energy Officials meet the challenge of achieving affordable, reliable, clean power for economic growth.”

“As we expand the grid to support low-cost, clean energy generation, reduce power outages as we face climate-driven extreme weather, and accommodate electric vehicle and heat pump adoption, we need to leverage our nation’s existing infrastructure as much as we can,” said Chaz Teplin, Principal on RMI’s Carbon-Free Electricity Program. “The NextGen Highways coalition’s approach—siting critically-needed transmission along existing highways—is an innovative and safe means of building a system that will benefit all of us.”

The NextGen Highways initiative’s expansion from an initial public-private collaboration in Minnesota into a national effort comes after securing funding from Breakthrough Energy.

Coalition members will help refine the list of initial target states where NextGen Highways will focus efforts to explore policy and planning objectives to allow for the consideration of co-locating transmission infrastructure in highway ROWs, as well as overcome state and local policies and other efforts that prohibit that co-locating.

By 2050, the US could need up to three times as much transmission capacity to meet ambitious decarbonization goals, with new renewable power coming online amid an acceleration of US transportation and buildings electrification. According to analysis by the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, this widespread electrification will increase the country’s power consumption by up to 40 percent by 2050.

Significant federal funding has been allocated to infrastructure in both the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, representing an opportunity to coordinate planning across federal and state agencies and the private sector to maximize the benefits of these investments. That includes $7.5 billion for US electric vehicle charging infrastructure to meet the goal of installing 500,000 publicly accessible charging stations compatible with all vehicles and technologies nationwide by 2030.

About NextGen Highways

NextGen Highways is a collaborative initiative promoting the use of highways and other existing rights-of-way as infrastructure corridors where electric and communications infrastructure are strategically and safely co-located. Learn more at  

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