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Monday, February 9, 2009

High-voltage superhighway for green power announced

From a blog entry by Tom Content on JSonline.com:

A major power line network linking the windiest parts of the Midwest with Milwaukee and Chicago was unveiled today by a Michigan transmission utility.

There's no word on how such a project would get built, given longstanding opposition to major high-voltage power line projects, but ITC Holdings Corp. (ITC) said it seeks to address the inability of the nation’s power grid to move power around.

ITC has named its project the “Green Power Express.” The express would come through Wisconsin, linking the Madison area with northeastern Iowa and southern Minnesota, according to a conceptual map prepared by ITC.

"The Green Power Express will create the much-needed link between the renewable energy-rich regions of the Midwest and high-demand population centers,” said Joseph L. Welch, chairman, president and chief executive of ITC, a transmission utility that is based in Novi, Mich.

The project carries a price tag of $10 billion to $12 billion and would span 3,000 miles in Wisconsin and six other states with power lines that carry 765,000 volts of electricity. These lines are capable of carrying much more electricity than the largest lines in Wisconsin, which are 345,000 volts.

The project aims to address one of the biggest hurdles seen to having Wisconsin and other states meet targets that would require as much as 25% of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources of energy, such as wind and solar, by 2025. Some of those hurdles were described over the weekend in the New York Times.

In short, the best sources where renewable energy can be produced -- states such as the Dakotas and Iowa -- areas that are far from population centers where most electricity is consumed.

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