Our nation needs an improved power grid

Energy transmission is a critical piece of our nation’s fundamental infrastructure. Transmission lines are the blood vessels that not only keep America’s economic heart pumping, they also provide the electricity that serves our most basic everyday needs.

We need an effective, efficient power grid. Without energy resilience, and the appropriate overlay of redundancy needed to keep electrons flowing during the various natural disasters and weather extremes we face on the Plains, we’re at the precipice of joining our ancestors on the frontier – an existence our current culture is far too soft to endure.

Hey, I’m an offgrid homesteader at heart, but mostly because I haven’t been forced to actually live that way… yet. I suppose I don’t want to live without electricity, and neither do you. So what’s with the opposition to the proposed National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs).

The Department of Energy did a horrible job of getting the word out soliciting input on their NIETCs. How can the public comment on the topic when they don’t even know about or understand the topic? Remember this when local government entities say they want to start posting public notices on their websites, rather than in third party publications like newspapers.

We need to ask, what is the alternative? If someone wants to understand our country’s energy infrastructure, even the most minimal effort of research will bring them to the understanding that our grid needs to be improved and expanded, majorly. Not only for the purposes of reliability because of our occasional (but natural) extreme weather patterns (remember the extreme cold snap from a couple years ago that caused utility prices to soar?), but also because our lack of redundancy in the grid makes this a national security issue. Read Annie Jacobsen’s new book Nuclear War: A Scenario if you want to learn how easy a target our grid would be for our enemies to strike.

Personal property rights are part of the bedrock of our country’s foundation. I don’t know anyone who thinks the use of eminent domain would be appropriate for this effort. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look at some of our nation’s interests and try to negotiate improvements to energy transmission in the specified corridors and beyond.

Transmission lines are already everywhere because Americans love electricity. Let’s get more information before we reject improvements to our nation’s power grid.

Dan Thalmann is the owner/publisher of the Washington County News and is a Past President of the Kansas Press Association. He has won numerous journalism awards in many categories over the years, including multiple awards as the best mid-sized weekly newspaper in Kansas.