Up and down the center of the country, winds rip across plains, ridges and plateaus, a belt of unharnessed energy capable of powering millions of customers, with enormous potential to help meet national goals to stem climate change.
And because the bulk of the demand is hundreds of miles away, companies are working to build a robust network of high-voltage transmission lines to get the power to the coasts.
If only it were that simple. In all, more than 3,100 miles of projects have yet to be built, in need of government approval.
One of the most ambitious projects, called the Grain Belt Express from a company called Clean Line Energy Partners, spent six years winning the go-ahead in three of the Midwestern states it would cross, only to hit a dead end in Missouri when state regulators voted 3 to 2 to stop the project. They were swayed by landowners like Jennifer Gatrel, who runs a midsize family cattle operation with her husband, Jeff, here in the northwestern part of the state.
She and other opponents made the usual arguments against trampling property rights through the use of eminent domain, obliterating their pastoral views and disrupting their way of life.
But they also argued something else: Why should they have to live beneath the high-voltage lines when there is plenty of wind in the East?
Now the whole project is waiting, putting the Gatrels in the middle of an emerging battle over how the nation should shift to renewable energy and meet ambitious targets in carbon reduction. The outcome will determine where and how green energy will develop over the coming decades.
Proposed Transmission Lines for Renewable Energy
Several companies are hoping to build high-voltage transmission lines to transport renewable energy from wind farms and hydroelectric plants to more populous regions of the country. One such company, Clean Line Energy Partners, has been denied permission by the Missouri Public Service Commission to run its Grain Belt Express transmission line across that state.
The transmission lines like Grain Belt Express, he said, would bring the electricity to where there is demand.
The push to enhance the grid has gained urgency as renewables have spread. Already, electric systems in areas like Hawaii and Germany are under strain as wind and solar power fluctuate and overload the wires. What is needed, proponents say, is a new infrastructure better suited to handle renewable energy.
Energy Department officials acknowledge as much, saying that the United States must significantly upgrade its transmission and distribution system to meet both the needs of the information economy and clean energy goals, an effort that would require an estimated $900 billion in investment by 2030.
A recent study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado, Boulder, found that with such a network, the United States could supply most of its electricity with renewables by then at costs near today’s prices and get close to meeting the goals set in the Paris agreement on climate change.
But opponents like Ms. Gatrel say that giant projects like the Grain Belt Express represent an outmoded, centralized approach to delivering energy. Just as it is healthier and more sustainable to eat foods close to where they are grown, the argument goes, so, too, should electricity be consumed closer to where it is produced.
The Latest on: Alternative energy transmission lines
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The Latest on: Alternative energy transmission lines
- Africa Needs Bolder Private Financing Models for Power Transmission Lines - Energy Expertson July 5, 2019 at 3:11 am
The meeting, hosted by the African Development Bank to mark the 3rd Africa Energy ... of transmission lines. It also covered the investment priorities of transmission companies, alternative ... […]
- Wind Power to Lift Alternative Energy Space in the Near Termon July 1, 2019 at 3:53 pm
The Zacks Alternative Energy industry can be fundamentally ... and achieving 100% renewables will require doubling of these transmission lines. The addition of 200,000 miles of new HVT will ... […]
- Black Hills Energy answers common questions asked for proposed line, substationson June 28, 2019 at 7:30 am
For those who weren’t able to join us, here are the three most common questions we heard at the Open Houses: Has Black Hills considered a different approach to the transmission line, like an ... […]
- Washington Clean Energy Transformation Act Establishes Aggressive Mandates for Grid Decarbonization and Renewable Energy Productionon June 27, 2019 at 9:52 am
After several years of fruitless effort, Washington’s 2019 legislature passed and Governor Inslee signed the Washington Clean Energy Transformation Act ... to accelerate depreciation for the ... […]
- 'Once it's built, there's no going back': Public gives input on ATC transmission line before PSCon June 26, 2019 at 4:11 pm
"We really want the commission to pause, look at alternative energy solutions and make a good decision for the state of Wisconsin.” A full house for the public hearing on ATC’s proposed transmission ... […]
- Final set of public hearings over transmission line proposalon June 26, 2019 at 3:43 pm
Supporters of the proposed transmission line have said it would improve access to cheaper power and more renewable energy. Conservationists said on Wednesday the line would hurt the environment. Many ... […]
- Warren Gaskill: Proposed ATC line overlooks energy trendson June 25, 2019 at 9:00 am
long transmission lines may be superseded in another decade by more cost-effective, resilient, cleaner energy strategies to serve utility customers paying the costs. The only prudent PSC decision is ... […]
- Renewable Energy Curtailment 101: The Problem That’s Actually Not a Problem At Allon June 25, 2019 at 8:36 am
In most cases, it simply does not make economic sense to build all the infrastructure (e.g. transmission lines or energy storage) that would be required to utilize every last drop of renewable ... […]
- PNM to Expand Transmission Line to Bolster Renewable Energyon June 20, 2019 at 8:59 am
PNM, the wholly owned New Mexico utility subsidiary of PNM Resources, has signed an agreement with an affiliate of Pattern Energy Group 2 and the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority to ... […]
- NV Energy releases details for renewable transmission initiativeon June 6, 2019 at 5:00 pm
Depending on market interest, NV Energy's Renewable Transmission Initiative could ultimately result in the construction of up to 570 miles of new overhead electric transmission lines and associated ... […]
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