If you want to build a wind farm in Minnesota right now, you're in for a nasty surprise. A 612-year nasty surprise in fact.
The Midwest Independent Transmission System (MISO), the organization in charge of the power lines, has to approve every new project that will connect to existing power lines. And MISO is only used to dealing with coal-plant-sized projects. Thus, the current regulations say that they must dedicate 2 years of their time to every project that will connect to the grid.
Not only that, but they're only allowed to process one application at a time.
This worked fine back when they were approving coal plants. Two years was plenty of time, and there weren't enough giant fossil fuel plants to fill their docket.
But a system that worked fine for fossil fuel has completely broken down in the face of distributed wind energy. People filing an application with MISO to build a medium- to large-scale wind project (of which there are currently over three hundred) have a heck of a wait in front of them.
So...why hasn't the system been changed yet? Obviously, if people want to build wind turbines in America, especially in the Midwest where it's windy and the land is already roaded, we should let them! But so far, the only solution they've been able to come up with is to group proposals together, pretending that ten or twenty wind farms are all the same project. It's not technically legal, but apparently it's easier than changing the law.
The problem is, even if they manage to make that work, people applying today still have to wait at least FIFTY YEARS! I think we'll probably see MISO getting some serious pressure from the federal and state governments to change their ways, and fast.
written by Mark Bartosik, February 11, 2008
written by Thomas, February 11, 2008
written by Flac, February 12, 2008
written by David, February 12, 2008
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