With wind, solar, and geothermal projects popping up with increasing frequency in the U.S., a recurring theme of obstruction is materializing. When it comes to development obstacles, all forms of renewable energy have one thing in common: a lack of transmission.

Inside Renewable Energy’s weekly podcast recently covered the issue that has been inhibiting renewable energy growth ever since its inception. Erik Swenson, a partner with the international law firm Fullbright and Jaworski dealing with energy and climate issues, provides commentary on the topic. Swenson describes the transmission problem as one of “federalism.” He believes that the government is good at seeing the big picture, “macro” necessity of creating a so-called green power super highway but fails to understand the smaller, “micro” complexities that must be overcome to accomplish the task. He cites the stimulus bill as a misfire for transmission projects:

“ARRA legislation is focused on shovel ready projects but it takes 7 to 10 years, roughly, to site a new transmission line. So, if you can’t start construction on your new transmission line within about the next year and complete it within about the 2016 timeframe then the money is not available to you… so it’s just not going to solve the problem of how to connect new geothermal, new solar, new offshore wave energy projects to the grid.”

The podcast, which also covers other renewable energy topics, can be heard in its entirety here.

Transmission has been a popular focus for the National Wind blog these days (see here and here) but it is an issue that encompasses more than just wind energy. We’re still hoping that Congress will recognize that and figure out how to handle the “micro” complexities in time to make a difference with the new energy bill.

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