The Green New Deal would require an overhaul of the transmission lines that deliver wind and solar power, a major logistical obstacle to the progressive plan for radically revamping the economy to address climate change.
The Green New Deal’s plan to ramp up federal funding for wind and solar to reach 100 percent renewable or clean electricity won’t be sufficient without addressing transmission lines, which often meet political opposition at the local, not federal, level.
The Green New Deal resolution proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., does not explicitly mention transmission lines, although it does call generally for major repairs and upgrades to the nation’s infrastructure.
“It’s not getting enough attention from policymakers,” said Rob Gramlich, president of Grid Strategies LLC. “People often want to believe the myth you can get to high renewable energy without transmission networks. Unfortunately, that is not going to work.”
Transmission lines are critical to transporting electricity from places, typically rural areas, that have an abundance of wind or solar to consumers in population centers that don’t generate significant renewable electricity.
“There are major areas of the country where we have significant wind and solar resources that cannot reach market,” said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel of Advanced Energy Economy.
Economists from the Brattle Group said in a report this month that policymakers risk overbuilding the electricity system with surplus wind and solar if they don’t appreciate the need for expanding the U.S. transmission system.