President Should Set Transmission Reform as Top Energy Goal

President Obama offered several laudable energy goals during his recent State of the Union address. However, he did not mention upgrading and expanding clean energy transmission as an investment in attaining his goals.
President Obama should turn his attention to improving, upgrading and expanding our nation’s electric transmission system. Doing so will create jobs, spur new industries, and lead to a more-sustainable energy future for all of America, rural and urban alike.

According to a Center for Rural Affairs report on transmission, (www.cfra.org/files/Connect_the_Dots.pdf), overhauling existing lines and building new ones will require tremendous capital, yet the direct and indirect financial benefits are massive. Construction and maintenance crews will be put to work repairing existing lines, junction boxes and transformers as well as erecting towers for new transmission cables.

Many rural areas are sitting on a fortune in untapped wind energy resources, stymied by stifling bottlenecks in our current transmission system. Rural communities can connect to the larger network with new electric lines, creating market accessibility for their wind energy. And system improvements will create jobs today while building a robust framework for tomorrow.

Improving and expanding transmission is non-partisan and all energy sources are treated equally over the copper wires. Regions rich in wind-resources will benefit from increased transmission, but so will solar, geothermal, and hydro-power efforts. Mr. President, make rural America’s energy future a central theme in your efforts to revitalize the nation’s economy by making transmission reform the top energy goal for you and for Congress this year.