Finding A Home for Renewable Energy and Transmission

Utilities must involve America’s farmers, ranchers, and rural landowners in critical decisions about how and where to build new energy transmission infrastructure. Finding A Home for Renewable Energy and Transmission, my new report authored with Carl Zichella of the Natural Resources Defense Council, outlines clear steps to achieve this goal.

A clean and efficient power system requires wires to transmit and distribute electricity where it is most needed. Today’s aging grid struggles to achieve this as consumers are increasingly demanding efficiency and clean energy.

The report is one of eight white papers making up America’s Power Plan, a clean energy toolkit curated by the Energy Foundation in partnership with Energy Innovation. It focuses on institutional innovations that can help modernize America’s power grid by making changes to the way we plan for, site, and permit clean power generation and transmission infrastructure.
Policymakers have many options to accelerate siting for new generation and transmission needs. Changes to the way landowners are compensated for the value of their land is one. Also, reforms are needed to locate, coordinate, and expedite any new generation or transmission the grid system requires.
In short, policymakers should:

  • Optimize existing grid infrastructure.
  • Fully use available planning processes.
  • Employ “Smart from the Start” criteria.
  • Improve interagency, federal-state, and interstate coordination.
  • Work with landowners to develop new options for private lands, including innovative compensation measures.
  • Refine the process to support siting offshore wind developments.

Today’s siting process can be a particular challenge for transmission line projects that cross many different jurisdictions. But the changes we’ve described in Finding A Home for Renewable Energy and Transmission can help accelerate smart siting.

Hladik and Zichella were among over 150 leading energy analysts from academia, industry and the nonprofit sector that were tapped for their analysis in the commissioning of America’s Power Plan, the first national effort to take a comprehensive look at the challenges faced by the electric power system and outline potential policy and market solutions. The report is intended to tackle the tough questions about America’s energy future and serve as a toolkit for state and local decision makers as they seek to address these challenges.