Thursday, January 8, 2009

States defend turf as Congress weighs expanding power over grid

Investing in the grid is the most economically rational spending on energy that I know of.
Gussied up as stimulus or not, wearing a green patina or not, we've got to do it. Might as well do it now.
From E&E via Common Tragedies:

More green infighting - federalism edition
Or “Electricity Transmission Clusterf*ck Story of the Day”

A top utility regulator expressed concern yesterday about states losing approval power over proposed transmission lines, underscoring the challenge of updating the nation’s aging web of power lines as new sources of electricity, like wind, come online.

New Jersey utility regulator Frederick Butler, who presides over a national group of state commissioners, reacted to plans in Congress — and to suggestions by President-elect Barack Obama — that point to growing support for federal jurisdiction over the placement of transmission lines that could carry energy between states.

“We don’t like the idea of pre-emption,” Butler told reporters. “We don’t want to be just told what to do. We want to be consulted. We want to have a voice.”

He added that states should have “veto” power over proposed lines that could have negative impacts on the environment and rates in local regions that federal officials might not fully understand.

The assertions come as Congress considers ways to create a national grid that is more reliable, wastes less power and is able to move a growing amount of renewable energy throughout the country. One plan calls for $75 billion to be spent constructing a high-voltage “backbone” that would connect major energy centers around the country.

Congress took the first step toward a national grid in 2005, when it gave the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority to override states in congested areas and to give the go-ahead for new lines that serve the national interest.

So far, that new power is untested. One utility has taken advantage of the rule, though the outcome is still pending. Southern California Edison is asking FERC for permission to build a 270-mile line from the Palo Verde nuclear plant near Phoenix to Palm Springs, Calif. Edison appealed to FERC after the Arizona Corporation Commission rejected the plan, saying it would cause environmental damage and boost prices in Arizona.

Obama wants a ‘whole new’ grid...MORE