(p. B1) COWGILL, Mo. — Up and down the center of the country, winds rip across plains, ridges and plateaus, a belt of unharnessed energy capable of powering millions of customers, with enormous potential to help meet national goals to stem climate change.
And because the bulk of the demand is hundreds of miles away, companies are working to build a robust network of high-voltage transmission lines to get the power to the coasts.
If only it were that simple. In all, more than 3,100 miles of projects have yet to be built, in need of government approval.
One of the most ambitious projects, called the Grain Belt Express from a company called Clean Line Energy Partners, spent six years winning the go-ahead in three of the Midwestern states it would cross, only to hit a dead end in Missouri when state regulators voted 3 to 2 to stop the project. They were swayed by landowners like Jennifer Gatrel, who runs a midsize family cattle operation with her husband, Jeff, here in the northwestern part of the state.
She and other opponents made the usual arguments against trampling property rights through the use of eminent domain, obliterating their pastoral views and disrupting their way of life.
But they also argued something else: Why should they have to live beneath the high-voltage lines when there is plenty of wind in the East?
. . .
(p. B6) . . . opponents like Ms. Gatrel say that giant projects like the Grain Belt Express represent an outmoded, centralized approach to delivering energy. Just as it is healthier and more sustainable to eat foods close to where they are grown, the argument goes, so, too, should electricity be consumed closer to where it is produced.
“We believe that the East Coast has access to abundant offshore wind and that any time you talk about green or clean, you should also be talking about local,” she said. “Unnecessary long-haul transmission lines are not our country’s future.”
. . .
. . . some energy officials and executives say there is a more dynamic and resilient alternative to . . . sprawling networks. Instead, they are promoting the development of less centralized systems that link smaller power installations, including rooftop solar, storage and electric vehicles, an approach known as distributed generation.
For the full story, see:
DIANE CARDWELL. “Fight to Keep Alternative Energy Local Stymies an Industry.” The New York Times (Thurs., MARCH 24, 2016): B1 & B6.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date MARCH 23, 2016, and has the title “Fight to Keep Alternative Energy Local Stymies an Industry.”)