The Center for Rural Affairs has a daily newsletter with news that often promotes regional high voltage transmission expansion and development of remote renewable energy, usually large scale wind. The newsletter’s target audience makes political sense as mile for mile, rural communities are more heavily impacted by high voltage transmission proposals. Regional utilities have wanted to increase overall grid capacity years before “Wind Power!” was cried. MTEP plans ask ratepayers to assume 100% of the costs of increasing the size of the whole grid about 20%. Growth in the use of electricity is predicted to creep along at the historically slow rate of only .7% per year for the next 25 years, so maybe its our excess energy dollars and economic certainty that are driving this pressing need? Or, perhaps other ways to invest our energy dollars are starting to look much more promising?
The headline article today (10-1-2012) “As U.S. plants close, coal still hot in Germany despite renewable revolution” seemed especially distracting.
Most energy policy folks equate Germany with leading the world in distributed generation, particularly rooftop solar. The data needed to support this insinuation was missing so I decided to dig some up. Here is my critique in a pdf: