Tuesday, March 10, 2009


A Congressional bill would help transmit alternative energy, trumping states’ jurisdiction

by Larry Geller

Forbes reported yesterday (Feds To Take Control Of Electric Superhighway, 3/9/2009) that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has

introduced a bill that would give the federal government authority to grant permits for new electric transmission lines, trumping states' jurisdiction on the matter.

Reid's bill, the Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act, provides a regulatory framework for the development of a national electric superhighway, a network of high-voltage power lines that would transmit electricity from remotely located wind and solar farms to energy-hungry urban areas. The transmission lines would play a key part in President Obama's push to produce 25% of the country's electricity from renewable sources by the year 2025.

The bill may or may not impact Hawaii, since it is designed to aid interstate transmission of alternative energy.

We should take note, though, because it represents the federal priority in replacing current energy sources with renewable sources. It also supports the concept that the energy grid, now usually vertically-integrated by companies that also provide power generation, must be available to alternative energy producers.

"Transmission is primary to enabling wind energy," said Bob Gilligan, the head of General Electric's (nyse: GE - news -people ) electric transmission business, in a February interview. "Transmission is also the bottleneck."

This, of course, relates also to the previous article questioning whether we in Hawaii can make any progress at all on replacement of fossil fuel power plants with alternative energy if HECO has a veto over whether the power is purchased or not.

I’d like to clarify that I am not a supporter of placing wind and wave generators in Penguin Bank. It’s just that the company moving forward with that project (while our state government sleeps) is the first to come knocking at the door. If it moves forward, they’ll one day be standing at that door with an extension cord sparking with alternative energy.

Will we be ready to plug in?


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