Planning America's Energy Future

October 14, 2013

The biggest energy challenge facing America is the need to expand, upgrade, modernize and better protect America's electric grid. The grid consists of more than 6 million miles of transmission and distribution lines owned by more than 3,000 highly diverse, investor-owned, government-owned and cooperative enterprises, says H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • Simultaneous with the expansion of the grid, the federal and various state governments have been working to "nationalize" it, which means not to put it under government ownership but to have it interconnected with multiple pathways and redundancies from region to region across the nation.
  • A nationwide grid should reduce routine outages caused by localized or in some instance even regional events.

Another vexing issue is "green power." Government policies in this regard are undermining grid reliability and increasing outages because the intermittent nature of green sources of electricity decreases the stability the system needs.

  • Traditional power plants produce a relatively consistent, constant flow of electricity. Wind and solar power are inconsistent.
  • This makes keeping a consistent power flow through the grid very difficult.
  • Yet, federal and state incentives and subsidies to produce wind and solar power or -- even worse -- mandates for the use of green power provide that the power must be generated and fed into the wires regardless of the costs or the havoc it plays with the reliability of the system.

The United States has abundant power supplies that could be developed to a greater extent and used more effectively if only the government would reduce barriers to development and end mandates and market distorting subsidies.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "America's Energy Future: Greater Independence," Jewish Policy Center, Fall 2013.

 

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