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New transmission infrastructure is key to a sustainable future but siting remains major hurdle.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent, Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 755 items added with 372,724 views
  • Dec 20, 2021
  • 351 views

In order for us to reach our emissions goals, we're going to need to get renewable energy from where it's generated to where it's needed, which places modern transmission infrastructure as a high-priority task in our efforts toward a sustainable future. 

This point was again brought home while reading a line from Andrew French of the Kansas Corporation Commission, who said not only does the state produce more wind energy than the state can handle, but that it could help surrounding regions that need a low-cost energy product. However, the transmission infrastructure did not exist on the ground where it was needed, so Kansas's wind power is trapped in Kansas. 

Where to place transmission lines remains one of the central battles in upgrading the old infrastructure. How to place the lines is just as troubling and part of the problem that requires 10-15 years for some transmission projects to complete. Landowners objections, environmental report requirements etc. all slow down the process. Do we make it easier and create a culture of land condemnation? Do we expand the public engagement process so that it happens earlier and brings itself to landowners and local residents so they have more time to get on board?

Whatever it is, something needs to change. Given the reports from climate scientists and researchers over the last two years, we no longer have 10-15 years to get transmission projects completed. How do you recommend moving further within the time constraints we've given ourselves? Is there enough time or do we need to start accepting the role of the bad guys who condemn land in the name of the future? Sounds like a hard sell to landowners, but then again, so were railroads and highways. 

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