Drumbeat Grows for National Transmission Grid
Oct 21, 2008 - Wind Energy Weekly
Suggesting an increasingly loud drumbeat for a model urged by wind advocates, several panelists voiced the need for a national electric grid at an October 14 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission technical conference.
FERC called the conference to explore some of the barriers that exist to transmission development in the U.S. The commission heard from a wide range of speakers, including vertically integrated utilities, an independent transmission company, a private equity firm, a public power entity, a regional transmission organization, and a representative of real estate investment trusts.
Many of the panelists expressed the need for a national electric grid to tap location-constrained renewable energy resources, such as wind. Susan Tomasky, president of AEP Transmission, stated “that the foundational element in meeting . . . future [energy] challenges is the development of a robust national interstate Extra-High Voltage backbone grid. . . . It would also ensure that we have the flexibility to interconnect efficiently an evolving portfolio of supply resources – including a large volume of renewable sources – in the decades to come.”
Roy Thilly, president and CEO of Wisconsin Public Power, Inc., echoed such sentiments, stating that in order to get such a national backbone grid built, FERC should be given exclusive federal transmission siting authority.
Several prominent figures, meanwhile, recently voiced support for a national “transmission superhighway” at an October 14 event in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Center for Energy Policy and the Environment at the Manhattan Institute.
"Bold government action is needed in partnership with the private sector," said Former New York Governor George Pataki, who now serves as counsel to AWEA member law firm Chadbourne and Parke, LLP. Pataki said that the process of designating national transmission corridors should be streamlined and specifically that Congress must act "to allow vital transmission projects to go forward."
Also voicing support for a national electric grid was Southwest Power Pool President and CEO Nicholas Brown. “We need national siting, and I would propose national siting for what could be designated as national facilities,” he said.