The Need To Deliver Wind
Guess What’s Holding Back Wind Power in the U.S.; One man’s failed attempt to build a transmission line illustrates a unique American obstacle to clean energy.
Peter R. Orszag, July 10, 2019 (Bloomberg News)
The cost of wind energy has dropped drastically over the past several decades as the technology has advanced, especially in the size of turbines. Since 2009, the unsubsidized average cost of onshore wind-energy production has fallen [from $0.135/kWh to $0.042/kWh in 2018. With] U.S. tax subsidies, the cost of building wind capacity is often lower than the marginal cost of generating electricity with existing coal-powered plants… But a surprisingly difficult challenge remains: how to move the wind energy from the places where it is produced — often remote areas — to the population centers where it is needed
…[One big reason the U.S. lags in such transmission is] eminent domain, the power that governments use to force local property owners to seal easements across their land for some broader public purpose…[I]nterstate natural gas pipelines builders have used] eminent domain under federal law since Congress passed the Natural Gas Act in 1938…[But interstate electricity-distribution line builders] lack any such authority… [In 2008, President-elect Barack Obama rejected] the idea of adding federal eminent domain for electricity lines to the economic stimulus bill…because it was controversial enough to endanger the urgent stimulus package…[New efforts are being made to build lines, to develop] offshore wind farms near population centers (with underwater transmission lines), and [to lay] high-voltage lines along existing highways or railroad lines…” click here for more