Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Getting Cheap Wind Power Where It’s Needed Shouldn’t Be This Hard

State regulators have blocked several big transmission projects to bring wind power to the upper Midwest and the Southeast.

Transmission line (Credit: technologyreview.com) Click to Enlarge.
The wind power industry had another banner year in 2015, and the outlook for the future is strong.  The U.S. Department of Energy’s national wind-power plan calls for wind to supply 20 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030, up from less than 5 percent today.

There’s one major obstacle in the industry’s path, though:  much of that electricity is generated in remote, windswept areas of the Great Plains, and the transmission system to send it to market doesn’t exist. Getting power from wind farms in Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Iowa to the populous cities to the east and west has proven far more difficult than wind developers envisioned a few years ago.
Unlike natural gas pipelines, which are often routed using the power of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to exercise eminent domain, electrical transmission lines must win approval on a state-by-state, often property-by-property basis.
Relief, however, may be on the way in the form of a little known provision of the 2005 Energy Policy Act.  In late March the Department of Energy said that, if necessary, it would use its eminent domain authority under the 2005 legislation to acquire rights of way for Clean Line’s Plains and Eastern project, which will connect wind farms in the Oklahoma panhandle with the Tennessee Valley Authority’s grid via Arkansas.  The federal partnership effectively greenlights the 705-mile, 4,000-megawatt line.

The Plains and Eastern project “will be the largest transmission line in the U.S. ever, in terms of cost and voltage.”  Construction is expected to begin in 2017, and the first power will be transmitted in 2020, the company says.

Read more at Getting Cheap Wind Power Where It’s Needed Shouldn’t Be This Hard

No comments:

Post a Comment