Efforts to plan and site transmission for wind power cannot currently keep pace with wind power development. The very nature of wind power, whether distributed or intermittent, challenges traditional models of electricity grid development. Much of the decision authority for transmission is located at the state level, creating tensions between a system-wide need for transmission capacity and the local nature of planning and implementation. This study identifies and discusses barriers for wind power transmission and highlights the critical role of states and state policies in expanding and transforming the electricity grid to accommodate large scale wind power. Drawing on extensive interview data with energy stakeholders, we present a comparative case study of state-level contexts linking wind and transmission in Montana, Minnesota, and Texas. Stakeholders were found to portray transmission challenges and solutions for wind power based on the character of the local transmission grid, their status as power importer, exporter or self-sufficient state, and the role wind already plays in the power supply.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are grateful for financial support of this research from the National Science Foundation’s Science and Society program ( NSF-SES-0724257 for support of Miriam Fischlein and NSF-SES-1127697 (Clark), NSF-SES-1127272 (UMN) and NSF-SES 1127600 (Texas A&M) for support of Jennie Stephens, Elizabeth Wilson and Tarla Rai Peterson, respectively. We also would like to thank Jeremy Schreifels for creating the maps featured in this article. We thank our great research team members Andrea Feldpausch-Parker, Damon Hall, Paige Evans, Joel Larson, Gabriel Rand, Leah Melnick, and Rumika Chaudry for their work on this project.
- Wind power