We all remember Hans Christian Andersen’s story about the emperor and his new clothes, right? He was swindled by two weavers into believing that his new suit is made of fabric that is invisible to those who are stupid. And so the emperor, wearing this new suit, goes out among his subjects, until one young boy cries out that he has no clothes.
Well, isn’t that what is happening in the current debate about renewable energy? The president correctly advocates the production of renewable sources of energy from all parts of the country—where the sun shines and the wind blows. But all this talk of production wears thin if we cannot move the power from where it is generated to the population centers where it needs to be used.
If demand continues to grow, there won’t be suitable transmission capabilities to get the renewable energy onto the electrical grid. And the process for getting new interstate transmission lines built is a mess. Not to mention, it can take up to 10 years…if it gets built at all! What does that mean for the public? It means loss of jobs, increased demands on localized energy generation, stress on the reliability of our nation’s electrical grids across the country, and increased energy costs.
Cooperative efforts are taking place among states, local governments, and private industry to sort through the planning and cost allocation for transmission lines. But this traditional approach is just not going to work. It is clear that the most effective and expeditious method to fix this problem would be for the federal government to allow the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the same authority to site interstate electric transmission lines as they already have for natural gas pipelines. It works well, the states have a forum to provide input on their special needs and requirements, and environmental issues are addressed in a single proceeding.
Swift action by our federal government can bring all the stakeholders together, conduct all the proper environmental reviews, and get these corridors built.
Until the administration begins to address our transmission problems, any benefits of renewable energy are as invisible as the emperor’s new clothes. In other words, the federal government must step in…and get sewing!