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Renewable Energy Zone Act to Tackle Transmission Problem

On February 23, 2009 Senator Harry Reid proposed new legislation creating renewable energy zones throughout the country to raise the amount of renewable used in the American power grids.  His comments before the National Clear Energy Project in Neusom, Nevada centered on the potential of the United States to use solely renewable sources to power the nation through proper placements of power structures and transmission.

Transmission Wires, Smart Grid

Senator Reid claimed that “Nevada and other parts of the desert southwest have enough solar energy potential to power our country seven times over.  If you combine that potential with the wind from the Great Plains and the hundreds of thousands of megawatts of geothermal energy deep beneath the earth, the whole country could have cost-free fuel for many generations to come. “The proposed legislation will give the President power to designate areas with significant clean energy generating potential as renewable energy zones.  The proposed legislation would tackle one of the most important and stifling problems for green energy production, specifically transmission.  Renewable energy sources face the same problem as conventional energy sources, public disdain for placing these sources in populated areas.  This causes wind farms in the northern plains and solar plants in the southwest to be built in unpopulated areas miles away from those in need of the energy.  Hundreds of miles of expensive infrastructure must are necessary to transmit the energy to consumers. This infrastructure runs into the same problem of placements.  Who exactly wants to live under high tension aerial wiring?The other problem is cost.  While aerial wires may work in rural areas they are simply impossible in heavy urban centers.  This then raises the cost from the cheaper $500,000 per mile of aerial transmission wiring to near $20 million per mile for underground transmission.  These costs are extremely prohibitive for most states and local municipalities.  The legislation proposed by Senator Reid allows the state and local municipalities of renewable energy rich regions to create their own plans for power source and transmission placement.  But, if the states and municipalities fail to come to resolution than the Federal Energy Regulation Committee will be able to get involved and control the process.  New York Governor George Pataki agreed with this proposal citing the need for a federal process for approving power lines.  The legislation must deal with the problem of “not in my backyard” stated Gov. Pataki.  The Governor did warn the forum not to seek an authoritarian approach to federal involvement, but create a process that works with states and municipalities.  It is unknown if this new legislation will create an antagonistic relationship or how the cost of the new transmission lines will be dealt with, but it is a step in the right direction.


I wonder if this leglislation

I wonder if this leglislation can get broad enough Democratic support to overcome the almost certain Republican opposition.