Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Federal Government May Overtake Smart Grid System

Replacing America's antiquated electrical grid system is imperative for various reasons: much of it was constructed decades ago; we need an adaptable grid system to better serve America's rearranging demographics; and we need a 21st century grid system to transport wind power from the Midwest, or solar power from the Southwest.

People in the federal government recognize this and are considering legislation to preempt states' power on the Establishment of new power lines. The Huff reports on this:

After two hours, a consensus seemed to emerge: The outdated electricity grid must be modernized and expanded if President Barack Obama's vision of dramatically increasing the country's renewable energy resources is to be accomplished. And the federal government will have to play a bigger role in locating high-voltage power lines to overcome local and regional resistance.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a leading participant in the gathering, said he will soon introduce legislation to give federal regulators authority to override states when it comes to locating long-distance power lines.

"We cannot let 231 state regulators hold up progress," Reid said, referring to the members of state public utility commissions that decide on transmission locations.

[...]

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he's ready to open federal land to renewable energy projects, including wind farms in the waters off the U.S. coast, and map out energy corridors. But, he warned, the power grid of today won't get the new energy to the markets that need it.

[...]

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that will craft energy legislation, said that while he has not seen Reid's proposal, he agreed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have more authority for planning and locating high-voltage power lines.

Bingaman said he hopes to have a bill in four to six weeks that will address the grid issue and establish a requirement for utilities nationwide to generate a certain percentage of electricity _ as much as 20 percent by 2020 _ from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass.

Ghawar Guzzler comment: While controversial, the need for a smart grid system in the 21st century is too imperative, too important to not allow the federal government carry authority. Some may consider it idealistic to let states, or even private industry to take charge with this monumental task; but history has taught us - from the great engineering of Rome to our own Interstate Highway System - central government authority is by far the best at tackling infrastructure; and let us not forget... it was the federal government, with massive subsidies and the grand ambition of the Tennessee Valley Authority of the 1930s, that led to the electrification of the (then) underdeveloped Deep South.

Do not consider government's role of infrastructure constructor as usurper to private industry; it's rather an accomplice - a catalyst to private industry. Do we need proof? Could anyone seriously imagine Wal-Mart without the Interstate Highway System - the largest public works project in the history of the world??

Government electrified the Deep South and rural America, drained swamps, built sewer systems; it can lead the charge with a smart grid system and help transform our 21st century lifestyle.

- Brewskie

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