Transmission Lines for Renewables

Transmission Lines for Renewables

Texan ratepayers may have received a jolt yesterday from a potential $6.4 billion price tag for transmission lines to connect wind generators. The wind blows where the wind blows and so on and so forth for ocean tides and sunshine, but those places aren’t always where the load is. If we are to derive a significant portion of our electricity from renewables, more transmission will need to be built to deliver that energy. Which gets us to the chicken-or-egg dilemma for renewables: generators won’t build where there is no transmission access, but who will pay for a line that connects to currently empty land?

Many transmission projects are now on the drawing board as “renewable energy corridors,” providing a backbone for generator interconnections and potentially to diffuse NIMY concerns. Depending on how you count, there are perhaps a dozen such major lines in the pipeline throughout the country. As Minnesota demonstrates, such obstacles are not intractable. Beginning with today’s post, I will highlight the major transmission expansion plans in place or proposed to deliver renewable resources.

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