Bureaucratic Red Tape Hits a New Level in the Midwest

energyIf you’ve recently been looking for a reason to increase your hatred of bureaucratic red tape, then look no further than the regulatory insanity available at the Midwest Independent Transmission System (Midwest ISO).

Renewable energy is obviously a new business, and thus sadly the regulations that once worked now do not. When looking to construct a power station in the past, you were looking at powering it with fossil fuels like coal, or more recently from nuclear energy. Thus it wasn’t necessarily a problem to wait two years for a planning permit to be provided.

However the fact that this system has not been overhauled with the advent of the smaller and faster developed wind stations is ludicrous.

The Star Tribune, in Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota, points to Ryan Wolf, who has been waiting two years for the go-ahead to build 27 wind turbines in the southwest of Minnesota. But considering that each proposal has to – and I emphasize has to – take 2 years to be inspected, who knows how long it could be.

In fact, with 306 proposals, yes, the current last one should legally take 612 years to be approved.

This is made worse by the fact that by law they must look at one proposal at a time. The Midwest ISO’s laws force their employees to locate any point along the grid where it is already maxed out, and another source of power could overload.

Thankfully the men and women on the ground are taking matters in to their own hands, sort of. Against the law – though in an attempt to shed a mite of common sense on the issue – Midwest ISO is now bundling similar proposals together so that they can look at them together. This will bring the total waiting time down from 612 years to 50 years.

But there we strike another problem with each year driving the cost of the projects through the roof. Worse, for the state of Minnesota, is their pledge to provide 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025; “You simply can’t get there on time,” said Clair Moeller, a vice president at Midwest ISO.

Midwest ISO is definitely going to be feeling the pressure soon, if they themselves do not change their way of doing things. This is especially true considering that down in Texas they’ve negated the need to do spot checks on the entire grid. Instead of that, they just make those with the proposals pay for the “driveways” – the new power lines that run from the new station to the grid.

According to Rob Gramlich, policy director at the American Wind Energy Association, a Washington-based industry group, this has helped Texas connect three times as many wind energy plants than any other state in the US this past year.

Photo Courtesy of cjohnson7 via Flickr

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