The Lower 48 states of the US cover four time zones. The sun sets in California about 3 hours after the sun sets in New York. One must wonder if the folks running the government in Washington DC are aware of this. President Joe Biden’s plan for a climate-friendly electric grid depends on his administration’s ability to construct thousands of miles of power lines to bring energy from the wind and the sun across the nation.
This is intended to meet the Democrats’ goal of eliminating the power sector’s carbon dioxide emissions. Their purpose is to save the world from predictions made by mathematical equations saying the Earth might warm a few degrees ending life as we know it.
New transmission lines will be required to carry wind and solar power across the country to replace electricity previously supplied from coal and natural gas. As the sun sets in New York and their wind calms, California may be able to keep Manhattan’s lights on for a few more hours before all goes dark. There are however other major problems.
Eric Wolfe writing at politico.com  pointed out the tremendous local opposition encountered constantly to high-voltage transmission lines. Efforts by power companies to build these long-range transmission lines have failed repeatedly in recent decades. They become mired in legal and political fights from the opposition of states and communities along the projects’ paths.
In fact, Wolf’s article failed to point out that all sources of energy and all means of transmission/transportation of energy are regularly opposed by people who call themselves environmentalists. It would appear they yearn for life in the mid-nineteenth-century when heating was with wood, air conditioning nonexistent and transportation was by horse.
Nuclear energy has long been stifled by opposition based on unsubstantiated fear and there is a war against all fossil fuels because of global warming said to stem from the odorless, colorless, life-giving gas CO2.
Let me remind all readers, we are not just talking about fuel for Transportation but the capacity to create Electricity, cook our food, heat and cool our homes, manufacture everything, fertilize agriculture, create most products and provide sanitation. Mark Mathis at Clear Energy alliance.com is campaigning to end the use of the term fossil fuel and replace it with the acronym TECHMAPS which holds the initials of each of the most important things for which we use petroleum products.
Industrial wind machines are opposed by neighbors on the grounds of deep vibrating sound, shadow flicker, and ugliness. Solar panels that spread out over huge tracts of land render the land unsuitable for farming.
To make hydropower useful, you have to have a large flow of water, a big change in elevation, and a huge lake to store the water. The lake floods huge areas, much to the consternation of environmentalists. To grow energy crops, such as corn for ethanol, requires water, fertilizer, and pesticides, all annoying to the average environmentalist.
We all know that pipelines for carrying oil or natural gas meet opposition wherever they are proposed. The most notable one is the Keystone pipeline, which after years of struggle has been canceled by the brain trust in Washington. Yet railroad tank cars and tanker trucks which are far more dangerous than pipelines, also regularly meet opposition.
Transmitting electricity from place to place requires cables. The greater the distance the power must be transmitted, the higher the transmission voltage has to be. The more the sources are spread out, the greater becomes the web of transmission lines, and the greater the number of lawsuits brought by environmentalists.
Environmentalist nannies tell us to turn down the thermostat, eat raw vegetables, stop eating food that came from distant places, drive less, take the stairs instead of the elevator, and so forth.
In other words, the battle against power lines is just another skirmish in the larger war against energy production, transport and use. It is a fair bet that 80% of the environmental road blockers are democrats but don’t expect them to back down for President Biden’s master plan for using only wind and sun to run our country.
The hypothetical wind/solar grid (ignore its impossibility) that is being promoted is not—repeat, not—a source of electricity. Like any utility’s grid, “the grid” merely delivers electricity from where it is generated to where it is used by virtue of transmission lines. Some might require a million volts of direct current (dc), for noon solar power to be delivered from Arizona to New York, Chicago, Boston, and Atlanta.
The real problem, however, is that even on this grid, every source of energy must be able to provide power all the time, because the requirement for every grid is 99.9% reliability. When the current on the grid is lowered a tiny amount of automatic circuit breakers shut down throughout the system and in a very few minutes the entire system shuts down to save itself. Catastrophic destruction occurs throughout the system and weeks are required to put the grid back in operation. February in Texas this year escaped that situation only by about 5 minutes as they cut off power to enough companies and locations to get back in balance.
Regardless of these incontrovertible facts, Wolff quoted from Biden’s recent address to Congress:
“My American Jobs Plan will put hundreds of thousands of people to work — hundred [sic] of thousands of people to work — line workers, electricians, and laborers — laying thousands of miles of transmission lines; building a modern, resilient, and fully clean grid,” he said.
Ideally, the utilities and the grid would have very few employees, because everybody on the payroll costs consumers money. The purpose of utilities is to provide the highest quality, most reliable electricity at the lowest cost, not to have the most employees. Providing electrical power is a service, not a make-work project.
And what, precisely, is unclean about the present grid? We can hardly wait to see the “modern” wires.
Even a bigger problem is that building long transmission lines has always been hampered by what developers call the “three P’s”: planning, permitting, and paying for it. “These long-haul transmission lines take eight to 10 years to build,” said Lauren Azar, a transmission expert and former DOE adviser and Wisconsin state commissioner. “And we as a nation don’t even have the right planning processes right now to identify the right transmission that is needed.” Simply put, while you will continue to see large groups of wind turbines and solar collectors proliferate across our nation on your tax dollar, they will never make up a significant portion of our nation’s energy utilization no matter who is in the White House.
This article was published on September 30, 2021, and is reproduced with permission from CFACT, The Committee for A Constructive Tomorrow.