Just Transmission: An Electron Superhighway for 80% Renewables by 2030

In 2020, we had a great conversation with three deeply experienced panelists, Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald, Jim Hoecker and Cris Stainbrook. They address the constraints on renewable energy development and the potential of additional transmission to unlock that development and get us to 80% renewables by 2030. We'll also look at the justice opportunities and challenges of that expanded use of railroad rights of way, specifically in regards to tribes - and what that means in terms of solidarity and public private partnerships.  

Panelist Bios:
Cris Stainbrook has served as President of Indian Land Tenure Foundation since its inception in 2002. The Indian Land Tenure Foundation (ILTF) is a national, community-based organization serving American Indian nations and people in the recovery and control of their rightful homelands. They work to promote education, increase cultural awareness, create economic opportunity, and reform the legal and administrative systems that prevent Indian people from owning and controlling reservation lands. Before joining ILTF, Stainbrook spent 13 years at Northwest Area Foundation.

Alexander E. “Sandy” MacDonald, PhD currently directs the weather program at SPIRE, Inc in Boulder, Colorado. As former director of the earth research lab at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Sandy has demonstrated, through modeling, how the U.S. can get to 80% renewable energy by 2030. This model presents a solution to carbon emissions that could be implemented now with existing technology, including the use of high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission, the most efficient means of energy transmission over long distances. This Forbes Magazine article from 2016 provides an excellent overview of Sandy's groundbreaking ideas, How Weather And An 'Interstate of Renewable Energy' Could Save The Climate By 2030.

Jim Hoecker, Senior Counsel at Husch Blackwell LLP and Principal of Energy Law & Policy, is a nationally recognized energy advisor. He led the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as Chairman from 1997 to 2001 and founded WIRES, an international non-profit trade association that promotes investment in the electric grid. Jim recently joined forces with the National Electric Manufacturers Association (NEMA) to help establish the Railroad Electrification Council (REC). REC will promote new electrical applications, technologies, and public policies that can be adopted by or for Class 1 (major freight) and Class 2 (short line) railways, which currently rely heavily on fossil fuels.

From the February 11, 2020 NEMA press release:
"I am continuing my work on grid modernization and federal energy policy, this time with respect to another network industry -- railroad systems,” explained Jim Hoecker, former Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and founder of WIRES, the electric transmission advocacy group. “These are two potentially synchronous networks and we should not underestimate how much railroads can contribute to strengthening the grid, improving the environment, and addressing climate change. Moreover, railroad operations represent potential electricity load growth. NEMA will be a great partner in making the case for changes that will benefit our economy."

Maps from the Conversation below. Comprehensive Slidedeck HERE

NOAA Map of modelling for HVDC transmission and generation:

1880 Railroad Land Grant Map:

Showing 1 reaction

Pitch In Join the Team Take Action