Common Tragedies

Thoughts on Environmental Economics

Take it to the house

Posted by Rich Sweeney on April 15, 2008

A couple of weeks ago I posted about the current state of the proposed Western energy corridors after the Wilderness Society filed suit against the DOE for disagreeing with “failing to consider” the group’s claims during the public comment period. Today, according to Greenwire, two subcommittees of the House Natural Resources Committee were slated to examine the proposed corridors. It is expected that the members will also examine the public comment review process, in addition to the corridor proposals. Ideally Congress would use this opportunity to clarify the intentions of the 2005 Energy Policy Act with respect to these corridors, so that future delays may be avoided; Odds are there will be a lot of posturing and not much else. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, Karen Palmer, Anthony Paul, Shalini Vajjhala and I have a new discussion paper (PDF) out on the interrelationship between grid expansion and renewables policy. Basically, the point of the paper is to highlight how decisions along one dimension can affect optimal outcomes along another. For example, our modeling finds that absent new corridor designations, a national RPS could result in 10 additional GW of biomass capacity in the Southeast by 2020. However, were the DOE to simultaneously expand transmission capacity in certain areas, 6 GW of this Southeastern biomass would instead be replaced by Midwestern wind capacity. The point of this paper is not necessarily to advocate one corridor designation or renewables policy policy over another, but simply to stress the need for policy coordination across these two fronts. If you have any comments on the paper feel free to email me at sweeney@rff.org.

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