Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has introduced legislation to support president Obama’s vision of a green grid. The Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act will promote investments in transmission to facilitate access to renewable power, and also establish a streamlined planning and siting process for transmission lines. This legislation will make it easier for renewable energy suppliers to deliver clean energy from the often remote areas where it is harnessed to major population centers across the country. The federal government under this Bill would have
the authority to build “green” power lines to carry renewable energy, such as wind, solar or geothermal, energy that is often produced in remote areas, to the nation’s electric grid. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission would be given the power to step in if states failed to install critical high power transmission lines to carry power from designated renewable energy zones to the existing distribution grid—deciding where to place them and who should pay the tab.
These designated renewable energy zones are areas that have the capacity to generate in excess of 1 gigawatt of electricity from renewable energy sources, including rural areas or Federal land, but have insufficient transmission capacity to economically reach their renewable energy generation potential. This bill will exclude environmentally sensitive and culturally significant areas from being designated as renewable energy zones. The bill also defines renewable energy as: Electricity produced from solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, incremental hydroelectric capacity and hydrokinetic resources.
The bill seeks to address the critical shortcoming of the existing grid which is geographically fragmented and is currently designed to carry power from large centrally sited power plants to population and industrial centers. This bill requires participatory and transparent transmission planning on an interconnection-wide basis for green transmission projects to integrate renewable electricity resources from renewable energy zones into the transmission grid. The US transmission system is divided into three interconnection networks the west, east and Texas and it is these three sub-systems that this bill is targeting.
This bill establishes a surcharge on all transmission customers to cover costs of regional planning entities and states participating in interconnection-wide planning. The funds so generated will be distributed to regional planning entities and to states whose governors certify that they are participating in green transmission planning for the first year, and subject to timely submission of a green transmission grid plan in subsequent years. State Governors are also required to demonstrate that planning entities are able to effectively represent a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including the protection and conservation of land, consumer protection, and fish and wildlife protection.
This bill has the potential to address one of the major stumbling blocks standing in the way of renewable energy development, which is the inability to deliver power from the areas it can be produced in to the electric power markets in often distant population centers. This is not only a matter of the cost of building the physical infrastructure represented by these trunk lines from wind, solar or geothermal electric power producing areas, but also is often a matter of legal impediments to building new transmission lines. This bill will help promote the development of wind, solar and geothermal renewable energy in this country by helping to ensure that a means exist by which producers of these renewable energy supplies can bring their product to market.
© 2009, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.