Energy’s future lies in two camps: those who support more localized, smaller systems and those who want widespread power lines carrying energy from solar and wind farms. The chosen system would shape the course of climate change and resulting devastations, such as wildfires, heat waves, and other extreme weather says the New York Times. President Joe Biden and larger electric companies are on the side of more power lines to supply energy to homes while some environmental and community organizations want investment in rooftop solar panels, batteries, and local wind turbines. Current policy debates to determine the future of energy systems are occurring right now.
The divide between those who want more power lines and those calling for a more decentralized energy system has split the renewable energy industry and the environmental movement. And it has created partnerships of convenience between fossil fuel companies and local groups fighting power lines.
At issue is how quickly the country can move to cleaner energy and how much electricity rates will increase.
Mr. Biden has secured $73 billion for thousands of miles of new power lines in an infrastructure proposal he and senators from both parties agreed to in June. That deal includes the creation of a Grid Development Authority to speed up approvals for transmission lines.
Most energy experts agree that the United States must improve its aging electric grids, especially after millions of Texans spent days freezing this winter when the state’s electricity system faltered.
“The choices we make today will set us on a path that, if history is a barometer, could last for 50 to 100 years,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, managing director of the Climate Policy Lab at Tufts University. “At stake is literally the health and economic well-being of every American.”
The option supported by Mr. Biden and some large energy companies would replace coal and natural gas power plants with large wind and solar farms hundreds of miles from cities, requiring lots of new power lines. Such integration would strengthen the control that the utility industry and Wall Street have over the grid.