“The purpose of our plan is to build the infrastructure to where the wind blows most abundantly,” says Lisa Aragon, director of strategic initiatives at ITC. “As an independent transmission company, we can’t favor one type of energy over another. We do favor harnessing the wind for both environmental sustainability and energy security reasons.”
But critics have dubbed the new transmission line plan the “Green-wash Express” saying it could easily transmit as much or more energy produced by coal-fired power plants in South Dakota as wind energy.
“There’s no regulatory jurisdiction over this ‘green-power’ power line, not even a fig leaf that would require it to carry wind power,” says Paula Maccabee, counsel for Citizens Energy Task Force in Minneapolis, a group opposing the line. “It’s name is just a public relations slogan.”
Such plans, however, arrive amid a huge political push to harness wind power as one installment toward lessening US carbon emissions from energy production. President Obama has called for the United States to double renewable energy production in three years and get 25% of the nation's electricity from renewable resources by 2025. The new Obama stimulus plan includes $4 billion for a “Smart Grid” and new transmission lines.
Add to that the impetus generated as soon as next month when Congress is expected to begin weighing a new national “renewable electricity standard” that would require all electric utilities to ensure a portion of their power is from renewable sources. A draft bill before the US Senate calls for at least 20 percent of power from renewable sources by 2021 with gains in energy efficiency permitted to make up a quarter of the total.