The Energy is There, But the Highway to Deliver it to Consumers Isn’t

Like American highway and rail networks built to move people and goods across the country, America also has a network of power highways. This electric transmission network connects generating plants to cities.

But the power grid is less robust along the coast. Historically, coal-fired, nuclear, and hydro-electric power plants have been located along rivers, often far from the cities. The river itself provided hydro power, or it was an efficient way to transport coal in barges to the plants. Plus, many thermal power plants (i.e., coal, gas and nuclear) rely on river water for cooling.

Wind turbines don’t use water for cooling.  Today, we find many of them on the windy plains of America’s Midwest where they’ve contributed to good paying jobs and supporting rural communities.  We also can build wind turbines offshore.  But the grid built for the past is not well suited to moving offshore wind energy to consumers who need clean, affordable power.  There is virtually no offshore transmission network to move wind energy efficiently to the  strong parts of the land-based power grid where it can then be delivered to consumers.  Without an offshore power grid an efficient offshore wind industry will not develop.