It seems that the Midwest shares a common struggle with the people of Ireland.
A recent editorial in Ireland's Independent reads like something penned in the central U.S.:
The expected growth in electricity demand has not materialised. There is now a wide and growing margin of generation capacity over demand. A new gas-fired plant was commissioned last year and another one is due to come on stream towards the end of 2014. The construction of new wind-farms continues apace. While some of the older stations are coming to the end of their useful lives, none are on their last legs. If Ireland was left to its own devices, there would be no urgency about adding more generation capacity for many years to come.
Plans by Eirgrid to upgrade the high voltage transmission network, and in particular to build three major lines in the southeast, the west and a new North-South line, reflect both the ongoing need to renew and strengthen the network but also the perceived requirement to accommodate additional wind-power units. If the Government's wind targets are excessively ambitious, some of the grid projects might not be needed. There is also a push from wind-energy companies, including State companies, to build more capacity designed for exporting power to the UK. If these plans go ahead, there would be yet more high voltage lines, on top of Eirgrid's proposals, from the midlands to the east coast, as well as further undersea interconnection to Britain.
Energy infrastructure is both expensive and controversial. *snip* Plans for new transmission lines, extra wind-farms and onshore gas exploration are meeting widespread resistance around the country and promise to dominate the local and European Parliament elections in May.
If energy infrastructure projects make economic sense, the political system must arbitrate the health, safety and environmental concerns that will inevitably, and quite properly, be raised. It is sometimes tempting to regard the objectors as locally oriented nimbies seeking to blackmail politicians who are pursuing necessary national priorities. Indeed this is hinted at in the government line on pylons and wind-farms, which takes it as read that the various projects are necessary to meet the requirements of development. But if the economic justification for the projects is flimsy, the balance of the argument is altered. In Ireland it has not been demonstrated that the continuing push for ever-greater reliance on intermittent wind-generated electricity makes economic sense, nor is it clear that wind is the least-cost path to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
So, it's not a need issue, it's a GREED issue, just like it is here in the U.S.