A balancing act in the wind – building and importing renewable energy

Seth Kaplan

At the just-concluded meeting of the New England Governors and Eastern Canadian Premiers in Saint John, the capital of the province of New Brunswick in Canada, the governors of the New England states adopted a “Blueprint” for electric transmission to facilitate development of wind power.  The idea was to sketch out a basic plan for supportive infrastructure needed if the region is going to meet its renewable energy and climate goals.

The plan, which is available at the website of an interstate organization known as the “New England States Committee on Electricity” (“NESCOE“) is not perfect.  It does not appropriately consider the impact of rising CO2 prices on the price of electricity and underestimates the reductions in electric demand as we become more efficient.  But it is a good start to the very serious discussion about renewable energy and transmission that is needed in order to confront and win our climate challenge and meet the targets that science tells us we need to hit.

The governors are, among other things, trying to strike a balance here between meeting our goals through imports of renewable power from outside the region and through homegrown renewable energy projects.  In the long run it is very clear that we need to do both in order to meet our stated goals and reduce our emissions in the manner that science tells us is needed – but getting that balance right is tricky, as can be seen in this NY Times blog entry which describes the very blunt take of Arnold Schwarzenegger on the subject . .

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