Dec 31, 2009

Electricity Grid and National Transmission Policy

I was able to catch a bit of a CSpan broadcast of the US House Energy Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment recently. Not sure when the actual date of the meeting was.
This committee is very important especially in these days and times when renewable energy is being planned and implemented daily.

The panelists included about six CEO's of US power transmission line companies.
The main discussion was the integration of the alternative energy power into the US electrical grid. This is a very important but not very sexy topic for most.

"The greatest challenge facing the wind industry is that wind farms can be built more quickly than transmission lines. It can take a year to build a wind farm, but five to build the transmission lines needed to send power to cities. Wind power developers are reluctant to build where transmission lines do not yet exist; and utilities are equally reluctant to install transmission in areas that do not yet have power generators."(TX State Energy Conservation Office)

There was a discussion of how the costs of transmission can affect the total delivered cost of the power generated from alternatives even if the cost of the local alternative power generation may be cheaper in one locale than another prior to distribution.

There was a discussion of the "postage stamp" policy in grid transmission whereby the delivered costs to the public should be the same for any community.

Wikipedia writes, "Long distance transmission allows remote renewable energy resources to be used to displace fossil fuel consumption. Hydro and wind sources can't be moved closer to populous cities, and solar costs are lowest in remote areas where local power needs are minimal. Connection costs alone can determine whether any particular renewable alternative is economically sensible. Costs can be prohibitive for transmission lines, but various proposals for massive infrastructure investment in high capacity, very long distance super grid transmission networks could be recovered with modest usage fees."

You may want to keep up with the presentations offered to this committee on occasion since the results could help us move toward renewables at a faster rate.

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