Midwestern states have great potential to generate energy from renewable sources. Renewable energy provides these states with clean power as well as several other benefits in the form of new sources of income for landowners that host projects or job opportunities stemming from construction, operation, and manufacturing. But, these new power generators require connections to the larger electric grid, which allow the renewable energy to be shipped across the region where it can be used by homes and businesses.
Solving this issue of transmission is key to taking advantage of the Midwest’s renewable energy generation potential. The electric grid was built decades ago for different kinds of power generation, and connections for new renewable energy, such as wind, are limited. As the way we generate power changes, it’s important we continue to update the electric grid and find innovative ways to get renewable energy from where it is generated to where it is used.
The Grain Belt Express project provides an example of how new transmission can connect renewables. This project is a transmission line that will carry wind energy from western Kansas to customers in Missouri, Illinois, and the eastern United States. The project is essentially a superhighway for renewable wind energy, linking one of the nation’s best locations for wind energy generation to new markets across the Midwest.
There is no time to delay in improving our energy transmission system. Without improvements, the grid will be outpaced by the continued growth of the renewable energy industry. Regulators must take action to address the need for new infrastructure while balancing the concerns of community members. We must continue to seek new and better ways to develop our transmission infrastructure, use insight from landowners and communities to find the best path forward for a renewable energy future.