But hold your horses, Mr. President: who says we should build our energy policy around long-distance transmission? Not John Farrell, who's coming to Brookings Saturday to talk about why we should say no to transmission and focus on local energy independence:
Transmission legislation moving through Congress would preempt longstanding state regulatory authority over transmission line approval and siting. The goal is to speed the construction of a $100 to 200 billion interstate transmission superhighway, bringing solar power from the Southwest and wind from the Great Plains to the coasts.
Why is this problematic? Let’s ignore for a moment that most people wouldn’t care to live by a 150 foot tower running through a 200 foot swath of denuded landscape. Or to have their land seized for this purpose by eminent domain.
Many states oppose the new transmission superhighway for two reasons. One, it’s expensive. Two, it undermines efforts to reap the economic rewards of renewable energy self-reliance [John Farrell, "Say No to Transmission," Marc Gunther's blog, 2009.10.24].
Farrell says we would do more to promote clean energy and local economic development by producing our own alternative energy and using that power locally. Forget the tree-hugging: on the purely economic side, Farrell says one locally owned wind turbine can produce a million dollars of economic activity. Plus, "Locally owned wind projects can create twice the jobs and 3 to 4 times the economic impact of absentee owned projects."
Thanks for your forward thinking on energy and technology, Mr. President, but let's aim more of that $3.4 billion in smart grid money toward supporting the efforts of states and communities to produce their own energy.