When I think of locally sourced, I think of food products or building materials.  Products that don’t have to be transported long distances from production point to consumer are naturally more eco-friendly.  However, I never once thought about transporting clean energy across long distances.  An article by Matthew L. Wald, which appears in the New York Times, looks at a different type of clean energy debate – whether to build clean energy projects near cities with higher energy demands or in areas where more clean energy can be produced.

Dan W. Reicher, an assistant energy secretary in the Clinton administration who now leads energy initiatives at Google, said the debate exposed a conundrum. “The areas with the most attractive renewable energy resources often don’t overlap with the places where the push for job creation is strongest,” Mr. Reicher said.”  Source:  New York Times

Now legislators must fight for green energy projects in their districts.  Upgrading the nation’s electric grid will be required if wind and solar projects are built in the areas from which the most energy can be generated.  The article discusses North Dakota as a prime location for wind farms.  Transporting this power from North Dakota to the high energy demanding northeastern states isn’t really feasible with the current grid.  

To solve this problem, politicians in the Northeast suggest building clean energy facilities in the region.  Transporting energy from a wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts is far more efficient than transporting it from North Dakota.  However, the wind farm is North Dakota has the ability to generate more power than an offshore farm in the Northeast.  This new kind of clean energy debate will likely play out in Congress as the Senate prepares to discuss the climate change bill.

Regions that end up getting the funding for these renewable energy projects will inevitably see a rise in green energy employment.  Between 1998 and 2007, the nation experienced a 9.1 percent job growth in clean energy industries.  Although unemployment rates are at record highs in many regions across the country, the push for a clean energy economy will ensure the continued growth of jobs in the industry.

Photo: phault

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