There’s an article in the Chicago Tribune today, setting the transmission discussion as binary, transmission against renewable energy, but it’s not.  We can have it all, if we do our conservation, SERIOUS conservation, and site generation carefully and thoughtfully, displacing fossil fuel generation with combinations of intermittent renewables, utilizing the existing infrastructure

Transmission v. Green: Any characterization like this should be checked out further because it’s just not that simple.  The Christian Science Monitor did a little looking a year ago and lo and behold…

Indeed, the new corridors are not needed to boost reliability, say state officials and some grid-reliability experts. They say the corridors are aimed mainly at making it possible for large, deregulated utilities to profit from transmitting cheap coal-fired power from the Ohio Valley to the East Coast.

What raises suspicions for some is the sweeping scope of the corridor along the Eastern Seaboard. Transmission planners and engineers say upgrades to existing lines could address reliability without a need for most new lines. The two new corridors are not exactly narrow pathways for power lines, but encompass wide swaths of 11 states. The new Mid-Atlantic power corridor, for instance, encompasses 116,000 square miles.

“The FERC cited the Hudson Valley in New York as a bottleneck for power – but that’s wrong,” says George Loehr, a power engineer and executive committee member of the New York State Reliability Council. “It’s just that independent generating companies in upstate New York would like to be able to move more power to New York City and Long Island. That’s the highest priced market and would earn them more money there. But that’s not a reliability issue.”

But of course “that’s not a reliability issue.”  That’s because the purpose of all this transmission is to make money, not to address reliability.  It’s about those market transactions and displacing natural gas with coal, which is laid out right here, the purpose of the MISO Midwest Markets and all the benefits of the market, like payment for excess generation, payment for transmission services halfway across the universe…

ICF – MISO Benefits Analysis

Today’s Chicago Tribune article:

The desert and green power: A love triangle
The pristine Mojave. Clean energy for a city that needs it. Do environmentalists have to choose?

By Michael Martinez | Tribune correspondent
12:22 AM CDT, August 18, 2008

PIONEERTOWN, Calif. — April Sall is a keeper of the Mojave Desert and its mountains, tending a private conservancy in the same canyon where her grandmother homesteaded in the 1920s.

Once considered wasteland, this expanse of sunshine and wind is now a prized battleground between unlikely opponents. For generations, conservationists like Sall’s family have guarded the landscape, but 21st Century demands for renewable energy are threatening to crash into the pristine desert, now deemed a gold mine for solar, wind and geothermal farms.

Unlike offshore drilling and other oil and gas ventures in which developers and environmentalists are obvious adversaries, renewable energy is increasingly pitting two kinds of green advocates against each other as the nation seeks alternative sources in the face of record oil prices and global warming, both sides say.

The issue bears upon building a new infrastructure—such as gargantuan transmission towers or wind turbines—to connect remote areas where clean energy is being harvested while conservationists vigilantly protect the land and its life.

Big plans, big stakes

Such conflicts have played out in the Midwest, but the stakes are acute in California, where new state laws demand industry cut carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 and require private utilities to generate 20 percent renewable energy by 2010.

Near Pipes Canyon—where Sall, a preserve manager for the non-profit Wildlands Conservancy, resides—a group led by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is considering building a leg of transmission lines between a substation outside Palm Springs and one in Hesperia, about 80 miles away.

Called Green Path North, the lines would ultimately connect Los Angeles and other communities to the Salton Sea’s 2,000 megawatts of geothermal power—enough to juice 2 million homes—as well as solar and wind plants. The utility group will select from six potential routes, including one as long as 313 miles, but a dispute over a “preferred” route through Pipes Canyon and the broader Morongo Basin has residents fuming.

“There’s some conflict due to what’s been described as a feeding frenzy for renewable energy in the desert,” Sall, 28, said as she walked through a landscape of mesas and the Sawtooth Mountains that surround Pipes Canyon and adjacent Pioneertown. The setting is so evocative of the Old West that Roy Rogers and other cowboy actors built Pioneertown in 1946, and Hollywood made more than 200 movies and TV serials here, such as “The Gene Autry Show,” “The Cisco Kid” and ” Annie Oakley.”

“If you’re going to destroy conservation and pristine lands, then yeah, how green is it in the end?” Sall asked. She favors cities building solar plants on warehouse roofs, for example, but the utilities say the desert’s geothermal fields provide a steady stream of power and do not rely on weather conditions as solar and wind power do.

Still, the dispute has led to tense meetings, and residents set up a Web site condemning the renewable-energy transmission lines through their communities.

No easy answer

As Congress and presumptive presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama struggle with the nation’s energy crisis, developing alternative energy poses conflicts too.

“We’re really at the forefront of a discussion that is certainly going to be repeated throughout the state of California and nationally as well,” said David Nahai, general manager and chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. The nation’s biggest municipal utility, the department has set a goal of providing 35 percent renewable energy by 2020, up from the current 8 percent.

“All of us are going to face this challenge of where to build transmission corridors in a way that is going to impact the local communities as little as possible,” he said.

The farther the green source is from urban users, the greater the risk of controversy, industry leaders say.

“It’s interesting that we consider some of these areas as pristine and we don’t want to put turbines or solar or transmission lines there, but they are suitable for [housing] development. There’s sort of an irony there,” said Mick Sagrillo, president of the non-profit Midwest Renewable Energy Association.

In the Mojave’s Morongo Basin, open space advocates fear transmission towers—as high as 220 feet, with rights of way as wide as 330 feet—would endanger a wildlife corridor. But Los Angeles officials said they haven’t determined tower sizes.

The California Desert Coalition, which opposes the towers, says the Los Angeles utility identified the Morongo Basin as the “preferred” route last year when helicopters landed on private property and the utility’s crews laid survey disks and markers in the area. Later the utility apologized, calling it a “premature” move.

Residents want the transmission lines confined to an existing Southern California Edison corridor along Interstate Highway 10, but those lines are running at capacity, Los Angeles officials said.

Nahai, who joined the Los Angeles utility last year after the controversial helicopter surveys, acknowledges mistrust among angry residents, whom he visited last month in a meeting that was heated and raucous.

“We need to continuously talk to people and need to gain their trust and confidence,” Nahai said.

Seems they ought to read that article from Christian Science Monitor, one that lets reality see some ink on paper, and do a little research!

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