Development of clean energy faces one big hurdle: lack of sufficient transmission to carry renewable power. Our electric grid wasn’t designed to serve renewable energy generation spread out over a large area, but rather centrally-located generating plants. As investment in renewable energy continues to grow, it’s important that transmission infrastructure improvements keep pace, allowing for the benefits of new clean energy development to be shared by more rural communities.
Transmission, Renewable Energy, and Rural Communities
The transmission network was built to connect fossil fuel-burning power plants to large urban areas, while many of the rural areas that are rich in renewable energy resources lack sufficient transmission to link to the electric grid. Building out our grid to service areas that could provide clean and renewable energy is a crucial step in finding ways to decrease our dependence on heavy carbon-producing fossil fuel power plants, and allow for new investments in renewable energy.
New renewable development brings with it several benefits for small towns and rural communities. As an example, new wind farms provide payments to local landowners that host turbines, and counties receive a new source of property tax revenue. With new revenue, local communities have a new source of funding for essential services like schools, roads, police and fire services. Additionally, transmission and renewable development bring new jobs to an area, boosting the local economy.
As we continue to grow our clean energy economy, it's essential that we carefully plan new ways to connect renewable energy to consumers. By working together, local stakeholders and developers can identify the best way to site and build new transmission, enabling future renewable investment. But this will require that rural communities and landowners get involved in the transmission development process.
It’s important to get involved in the transmission development process and share your thoughts and concerns. During the project development process, local communities have several opportunities to engage with developers and discuss a potential project. The insight that local stakeholders can provide is one of the most valuable resources in developing new transmission, and can help ensure that transmission is built in a way that works for rural communities.
For more information, check out some of the links from our transmission engagement toolkit below:
Energy Fact Sheets: Economic Benefits of Transmission Lines
Energy Fact Sheets: The Grid and Transmission Lines
Clean Energy Transmission Map - find out if there are new transmission projects in your state
Examples of letters to the editor and opinion pieces on transmission
Transmission Updates Support Midwestern Collaboration
Our principles for clean energy transmission development