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August 27, 2008
WIND ENERGY AND INFRASTRUCTURE:
When the builders of the Maple Ridge Wind farm spent $320 million to put nearly 200 wind turbines in upstate New York, the idea was to get paid for producing electricity. But at times, regional electric lines have been so congested that Maple Ridge has been forced to shut down even with a brisk wind blowing.
That is a symptom of a broad national problem. Expansive dreams about renewable energy, like Al Gore’s hope of replacing all fossil fuels in a decade, are bumping up against the reality of a power grid that cannot handle the new demands.
The dirty secret of clean energy is that while generating it is getting easier, moving it to market is not.
But building new infrastructure is hard, and limited by NIMBY efforts, regulatory gridlock, and money. The money part is easy -- cut entitlements by ten percent across the board -- but the other parts are hard.