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Op-Ed: Environmentalists Block Green Energy Efforts

By Richard Bass     Aug 18, 2008 in Environment
The Greenies are blocking the very transmission network needed for renewable electricity to move throughout the economy.
The environmentalists and green groups have been plucking at the heart strings of the public and beating the war bongo's all the way to congress for years now singing the ballad of mother nature's pains of fossil fuel destruction.
Well contrary to their own movements the "Mommy I want a pony " crowd (tree huggers and Democrats) should have been dancing with joy at the opportunity to bolster a win for renewable energy efforts...
You would think right!? Well guess again! As reported today in the Wal Street Journal the environmentalists have brought several renewable energy plant plans to a screeching hault.
How or why would they do such a thing you ask? Well although they agree on green energy they do not agree to the fact that the power has to somehow get from the energy plants to the actual people that will be using it. Here is a quote from the WSJ:
" The greens are blocking the very transmission network needed for renewable electricity to move throughout the economy. The best sites for wind and solar energy happen to be in the sticks -- in the desert Southwest where sunlight is most intense for longest, or the plains where the wind blows most often. To exploit this energy, utilities need to build transmission lines to connect their electricity to the places where consumers actually live. In addition to other technical problems, the transmission gap is a big reason wind only provides two-thirds of 1% of electricity generated in the U.S., and solar one-tenth of 1%".
It was just last week that Duke Energy and American Electric Power Came to an agreement to come together on a project to build a stretch of transmission lines that would stretch 240 miles in Indiana that would be needed to accommodate the proposed wind farm.
The project was estimated to take until 2014 at the earliest to complete do to .. You guessed it1 Bureaucratic regulatory approval and obligatory lawsuits and right of way issues.
Also in the great state of California (home of the terminator) or governator as one other has dubed him.. Hundreds showed up at the end of July to protest a connection between the solar and geothermal fields of the Imperial Valley to Los Angeles and Orange County.
The protectors of mother nature (environmentalists) are lobbying state commissioners to put the kibosh on a 150 mile stretch of transmission lines that are needed between San Diego and the solar panels because it would go through a 20 mile stretch through Anza-Borrego state park. The governator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) had this to say which to me sums these people up quite nicely:
"It's kind of schizophrenic behavior,.. They say that we want renewable energy, but we don't want you to put it anywhere."
(I can recall telling this to a few of you here at DJ a few times if I may toot my own horn for a bit.)
California has passed a law mandating that utilities generate 20% of their electricity from clean tech by 2010 and 24 other states have also adopted renewable energy standards.
Here is the best part of bureaucracy at work. From the WSJ:
"Barack Obama wants to impose a national renewable mandate.( IF he wins the election) But the states, with the exception of Texas, didn't make transmission lines easier to build, though it won't prevent them from penalizing the power companies that fail to meet an impossible goal."
Folks This is a problem of epic proportions. If the states can't get the approval to do what it takes to allow the energy companies to get the power from the green energy plants to the grid, They will still be penalized? Or should they have said WE would be penalized. Some times you have to compromise for the best of all. But it is clear in this case that there is no willingness to compromise with the environmentalists here.
Although Texas only generates 3% of it power from wind turbines it is still the "wind capital of America" The somehow managed to bypass all the legal issues and hang ups that other states are battling. This has allowed them to progress in renewable energy faster than the rest of the U.S. where transmission line placements are concerned.
Oregon, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, the Dakotas, the Carolinas, Tennessee, West Virginia, northern Maine, upstate New York, and elsewhere are having the same ailments from the environmentalists and the "Not In My Back Yard" bunch.
The Wall Street Journal also sums up this little conundrum nicely:
"In other words, the liberal push for alternatives has the look of a huge bait-and-switch. Washington responds to the climate change panic with multibillion-dollar taxpayer subsidies for supposedly clean tech. But then when those incentives start to have an effect in the real world, the same greens who favor the subsidies say build the turbines or towers somewhere else. The only energy sources they seem to like are the ones we don't have."
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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