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PHOTO: A report from the Center for Rural Affairs finds that expanding the electric transmission grid is key to a clean energy future.
PHOTO: A report from the Center for Rural Affairs finds that expanding the electric transmission grid is key to a clean energy future.
February 22, 2013

YANKTON, S.D. – A new report from the Center for Rural Affairs finds that expanding the electric transmission grid is key to a clean energy future.

And an improved grid, capable of carrying high voltages is necessary to bring more wind energy online, in turn creating more jobs in both transmission and wind industries.

Johnathan Hladik, an energy policy advocate at the center, says the study found that most major power lines are not connected to the areas where wind power is generated.

"So we are finding that all of the important, big, large transmission lines that can move a lot of capacity,” he says, “the kind of capacity we need, are far away from the rural areas that are home to all our wind turbines."

Hladik says under the old model of generation, power plants, many coal fired, were located close to the population areas they serve. He says utilities are finding it difficult to locate new plants in those populated areas.

Hladik adds the study found only a few miles of the major power lines are located close to the wind turbines.

"Only six percent of the lines, 400 kilovolts and above are located in the top 10 states for wind energy potential, and most of those states are in the upper Midwest, and Great Plains areas, but even more importantly, less than one percent of lines over 600 kilovolts are located in these areas. That's only nine miles."

Hladik says more efficient use of infrastructure now in place is a critical first step, and to make major improvements, it will take some creative partnerships.

"It's not only the job of individual utilities and public utility commissions in each state to recognize the problem, and to recognize what we need to do to tap our wind resources,” he says. “But the onus also falls on states working together, on regional collaboratives."

Hladik says utilities have to come up with plans to move more power over a more efficient energy grid.


Jerry Oster, Public News Service - SD