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Transmission's Hour

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Small Business Owner Self-employed

As a small business owner, I'm always trying to find ways to cut costs and boost the dependability of my services. To that end, I've become increasingly invested in learning about energy saving...

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  • Mar 23, 2021
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The tide is now behind transmission’s back. After years of neglect, legislators, investors and the media are finally starting to pay attention to power lines. It was about time. 

Throughout the last decade, no matter where you looked, you could find conversation about renewable generation. It made sense: People were desperate to finally put the breaks on climate change and the new technologies promised just that, and they were just cool in a sci-fi way. Most people didn’t know a major clean energy transition would necessitate a similarly impressive transmission buildup, and journalists covering these kinds of things gravitated towards sexier stories on things like Tesla’s solar business or Greta Thunberg’s rise to stardom.  

Our collective misguided intuition on transmission has had real world consequences: Lack of grid infrastructure has slowed the adoption of renewables and given credence to renewable skeptics who insist the clean energy sources aren’t practical. But it seems the country is about to turn a corner on the issue. 

A little over a week ago,  a diverse panel of renewable experts hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy, made a convincing case for transmission. Cristina Hayes, VP of federal regulatory affairs at Berkshire Hathaway Energy, explained that the Biden’s administration’s ambitious carbon cutting and job creating goals would go hand in hand with transmission infrastructure investment. Bill Murray, senior VP of corporate affairs and communications at Dominion, urged industry decision makers to pay more attention to the grid itself. 

The Biden team has also given us pretty explicit reason to believe they’re interested in transmission development. During a recent presentation of the American Society of Civil Engineer’s C- infrastructure rating, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg stressed the need for more investment in the country’s transportation, water and electric systems. He said he thought there was about a $2.59 trillion spending gap. He also emphasized President Biden’s stated goal of having 500,000 EV charging stations installed across the nation and improving public transportation electric options. 

Just because the government says something needs done, doesn’t mean they’ll do it … right? In the past, when both parties were relatively fiscally conservative, that was definitely the case. However, the recent stimulus package signals that democrats are willing to spend liberally. Read more about this new era of spending here.

So, what concrete moves will actually lead to the pending transition boom I’m forecasting? A transmission tax credit is an easy and logical first step. 

However, money isn’t the only thing holding back the big projects we need to get renewable energy from where it’s farmed to where it’s needed. Restrictive processes and regulations are what really hampers transmission development in this country. State and federal agencies, along with utilities and legislators, must join arms to build up our grid for the renewable revolution. I’m confident they will.


 

Henry Craver's picture
Thank Henry for the Post!
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Dave Bryant's picture
Dave Bryant on Mar 24, 2021

Great article Henry. Thanks for posting it. Hoping the stars align soon.

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