It is no secret that a huge hurdle impeding the growth of clean, renewable energy is building a smart power grid and, perhaps more importantly, new transmission lines. In particular, the proliferation of wind power in the United States this decade is at a tipping point. A major problem that needs to be addressed is transferring the energy from wind farms to the high density cities.
The vision of oil tycoon T. Boone Pickens, who purchased 687 wind turbines to develop a major wind farm in Texas, came to a screeching halt because there were not the transmission lines to support the project.
In 2011, according to RW Towt & Associates, there is "new life being breathed" into the wind industry. With new high voltage lines under construction and coming on-line, wind developers with "shovel ready" projects could bring hundreds of megawatts in the coming years.
In California, Southern California Edison (NYSE: EIX) is working on the second phase (segments 4-11) of transmission lines from the wind rich Tehachapi Pass to Los Angeles. The first phase (segments 1-3), which was completed in 2009, has allowed for a major expansion of what will be the United States' largest wind farm in Kern County California.
Finally, in the south, the Texas Public Utility Commission is scrambling to complete US$5 billion in upgrades to its system to allow developers to further tap the nation's largest wind source, the Texas Panhandle.
The progress of transmission line projects such as these, as well as the future development of the smart grid, will be key to the growth of the United States' wind power market.
Image Credit: odanielgp via Flickr
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