At an average cost of about $12M per mile to construct new transmission, that's a whopping $295 BILLION dollars worth of new capital investment in transmission. And if all these projects end up over budget, as most do, it could be much, much more. And we must also add yearly operations and maintenance costs, taxes, and incentive rates of return for these transmission lines to the cost, bringing the yearly additional cost to consumers to fund new "renewable" transmission to a whopping $62 BILLION.
Where did the blogger get such an outrageous idea to embrace new transmission without any consideration of the reality of its cost? He drank the koolaid at a wind industry propaganda session put together by the "Americans for a Clean Energy Grid." There are no real "Americans" in this astroturf front group posing as the widespread support of an independent uprising of disinterested people. "Americans for a Clean Energy Grid" is composed entirely of companies that stand to profit from industrial-scale wind farms, the building of new transmission lines, or are environmental groups funded by private "foundations" that more closely resemble a Russian Matryoshka doll. Inside the doll is another doll, and inside that doll is another doll, etc. When you peel the layers of "initiatives" and "foundations" away, you're going to find self-interested corporate money.
The blogger is being played by one of the oldest tricks in the ol' propaganda arsenal, the one known as card stacking. Real Americans are being fed a pack of lies, however it looks like some Americans aren't buying what this front group is selling, judging from the comments on the subject blog post. One commenter goes into a long-winded explanation about how distributed generation is going to obviate most of this new transmission. But, another commenter cuts right to the bald truth:
"In our country, attention is relentlessly kept on BIG systems because that's where BIG corporations make their BIG money, and that's where they want focus to remain. I have long wondered why environmental organizations have not taken this obvious issue on BIG time. Perhaps because there are no BIG donations behind that cause?"
Of course, she's right. This article spells it out:
"A great deal of regulatory and political muscle stands behind modernizing the U.S. electricity grid. Unlike Entergy, many traditional utilities are getting deeper into the business.
For example, earnings from high voltage transmission climbed 41% at Northeast Utilities (NU) in the first nine months of 2012 and contributed 23 cents a share to the nine-month EPS of 66 cents. An enthusiastic Northeast Utilities CEO Thomas May told analysts at the third-quarter conference call, “Deregulation was something many of us in the industry fought… It is the best thing ever to happen to you, our shareholders, because it set off this [high voltage transmission] building boom.”
Retail utilities owning transmission lines, which must be available to competitors, potentially creates conflicts of interest and a regulatory thicket. ITC, as an independent transmission company with no retail business, doesn’t have that problem. It’s a pure play in a regulated, political popular industry."
But when the nesting dolls are taken apart to their smallest member, who will Americans find?
The fossil fuel industry, of course.
So, if we examine the dolls we have pulled apart here, we have Americans being fooled by industry hiding behind front groups funded by corporations who are being fooled by other corporations.
Americans need to wake up, because that $62 BILLION electric bill will soon be in everyone's mailbox.