The trick is in the transmission

Transmission line worries have claimed another victim, T. Boone Pickens' monster West Texas wind farm:
Last year, Pickens announced that he would build a 1,000-megawatt wind farm in Pampa, Texas. The problem a lack of a transmission line to bring the juice to population centers, Pickens said in an interview last week.

"I don't think the first place we build, though, is where we thought we would because we don't have the transmission," he said.

Remember that idea he had to build his own transmission line? "It was a little more complicated than we thought," he said.
The Pickens Plan envisioned a Midwestern "wind corridor" powering America and displacing foreign oil (natural gas would become our primary transportation fuel), but power lines are starting fights all over rural America, according to DTN's Chris Clayton. And wind is not the only renewable where the optimal generating locations don't coincide with population centers - California's Sunrise Powerlink also ran into stiff environmental opposition despite its potential to deliver clean solar and geothermal energy to San Diego.

The huge political challenge of siting and permitting new transmission lines is part of why people get excited about decentralized solutions like distributed solar. Ultimately, though, there are environmental complaints about every type of power generation - manufacturing solar panels emits powerful greenhouse gases, wind power kills birds, hydro power kills fish, etc. Negawatts can only take us so far, so ultimately there will need to be a compromise and trade-offs will be made.

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