The State of Texas is having an issue convincing its residents to install enough power lines to support its growing wind energy market. Sustainable energy won’t do much good unless you can transmit that power to the places that need it most and most of the time we still need less than attractive high voltage power lines to do that for us. It is a “not in my back yard” argument that the renewable energy world hasn’t really encountered yet — generally it is the turbine people don’t want, as we recently saw in Wisconsin.
Texas’ current infrastructure doesn’t allow for the wind market to expand and without the installation — or expansion — of high voltage lines, they’ll probably have to relinquish their spot as the state with the most wind power generation. Texas residents have vigorously fought almost every new proposed high voltage power line, stating that new transmission lines will ruin the state’s natural beauty — so will the pollution from coal fired power plants and drilling for oil, but you pick your battles, right? The powerful once-oilman, now turned green energy advocate, T. Boone Pickens was even thwarted, his $12 billion wind farm in the panhandle had to be cancelled after residents blocked his ability to install new transmission lines.
The funny thing about Texas is that a large group of Texas ranchers are more than happy to host windmills on their property but the same people are rejecting the building of transmission lines. The state has succeeded in getting a $5 billion plan to retrofit existing lines that run through Hill Country — where the construction of new power lines have been struck down by residents — in order to carry green energy from the places it is produced to the cities that need it. The Hill Country line is a start but it is not nearly enough, new infrastructure will continually be needed for forward progress and if Texas’ big business fight with the EPA about emissions restrictions is any indication, the power line argument might rage on for a while yet.