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The electricity transmission industry is in an expansion phase the world over, after a long period of low investment and sluggish growth. The move towards more liberalised and unbundled electricity operations, increasing demand for power, growing remote generation resources, increasing attention to grid reliability and security of supply, and the need to replace ageing assets have provided a new perspective on transmission investment. This trend is being reinforced with the adoption of explicit regulatory and policy initiatives aimed at stimulating transmission financing.

There is also a change in the way the electricity transmission business is viewed. Transmission is evolving from a "support activity" handled by integrated utilities to a stand-alone business, which is critical to the operation of the grid. The good news is that the financing community is generally supportive of these developments as they create a more focused and transparent environment for investors. While the new transmission structure is still in its infancy, thinking is emerging that traditional modes of financing may not be able to keep pace. Private investors are expected to play a much bigger role in bridging the gap. Non-traditional sources of finance such as private equity, and infrastructure and pension funds are beginning to target transmission businesses.

Technology and innovation are providing an impetus to transmission financing. Declining equipment costs are making it easier to mobilise funds for transmission projects. Meanwhile, strategies are being designed to finance and support new smart grid applications and asset management practices.

These regulatory and market forces are compelling transmission businesses to achieve operational excellence and still realise revenue targets. In many economies, they are also creating divestiture and M&A opportunities. Performance evaluation and benchmarking have become essential under the emerging industry structure and are important tools for incentive regulation. However, inadequate regulatory remuneration threatens credit ratings and impacts the financing capability of transmission operators.

In response to these developments, Global Transmission Research is organising a conference on "Transmission Finance" on March 15-16, 2012 at Grosvenor House in London, UK. The objective of the conference is to explore the issues that impact transmission investment, and evaluate the available and emerging options to finance the required infrastructure. The conference will provide an understanding of the emerging thinking on how the transmission business is viewed and financed.

This will be the first-of-its-kind industry meet to discuss issues, understand changing business and market structures, evaluate options, gain knowledge and identify potential solutions for financing the next wave of transmission development.

Key benefits to participants

The two-day conference will have focused sessions and discussions to:

  • Learn from speakers representing a wide spectrum of expertise, opinion and perspectives
  • Identify the policy issues impacting transmission expansion
  • Understand the effects of cost allocation and pricing methods on transmission expansion and financing
  • Analyse traditional financing methods and emerging options
  • Understand lenders' viewpoints on transmission financing
  • Examine how renewable energy development impacts the associated transmission financing
  • Assess merchant transmission models as opportunities to overcome financing obstacles
  • Determine the changing technology costs and their impact on financing
  • Review relevant benchmarking tools and practices
  • Gain insight into the transmission asset valuation process and practices
  • Know the legal aspects of financing
  • Understand the ratings procedure for transmission businesses.