The link to ru­ral de­vel­op­ment is re­new­able en­ergy, in­fras­truc­ture

Cherokee County Herald - - VIEWPOINTS - By Lu Nelsen Cen­ter for Ru­ral Af­fairs

The U.S. con­tin­ues to de­velop new clean and re­new­able en­ergy re­sources to re­place ag­ing, car­bon-emit­ting gen­er­at­ing fa­cil­i­ties. Lightly pop­u­lated ru­ral ar­eas pro­vide am­ple space for this new de­vel­op­ment, namely wind en­ergy.

Ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties stand to ben­e­fit from new eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity, tax rev­enue, and short- or long-term employment pro­vided by projects.

The Bureau of La­bor Statis­tics noted that the fastest grow­ing pro­fes­sion in the coun­try is wind tur­bine tech­ni­cians. The Depart­ment of En­ergy es­ti­mates the wind en­ergy in­dus­try could sup­port up to 380,000 jobs by 2030, a sig- nif­i­cant in­crease over the cur­rent 88,000 jobs.

How­ever, while ru­ral ar­eas have sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial to gen­er­ate re­new­able wind en­ergy, de­vel­op­ment has tra­di­tion­ally been hin­dered by a lack of means to trans­mit that power.

With­out suf­fi­cient trans­mis­sion, there is a limit to en­ergy de­vel­op­ment in ru­ral places. Trans­mis­sion in­fras­truc­ture has been a per­sis­tent bar­rier to the de­vel­op­ment of re­new­able en­ergy, es­pe­cially in ru­ral ar­eas.

Electric trans­mis­sion was tra­di­tion­ally built to ser­vice ar­eas with size­able pop­u­la­tions or to pro­vide ser­vice di­rectly to large in­di­vid­ual gen­er­at­ing units, leaving ru­ral ar­eas with­out the ca­pac­ity that has be­come a ne­ces­sity for re- new­able de­vel­op­ment.

With­out im­proved in­fras­truc­ture to trans­port new en­ergy to mar­ket, de­vel­op­ers are less likely to con­tinue build­ing on pace with pre­vi­ous years and many com­mu­ni­ties will be un­able to reap the ben­e­fits of de­vel­op­ment.

For the re­new­able en­ergy in­dus­try to con­tinue to grow, the trans­mis­sion sys­tem must be up­dated to con­nect re­new­able power to con­sumers.

Es­tab­lished in 1973, the Cen­ter for Ru­ral Af­fairs is a pri­vate, non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion work­ing to strengthen small busi­nesses, fam­ily farms and ranches, and ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties through ac­tion ori­ented pro­grams ad­dress­ing so­cial, eco­nomic, and en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues.

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