Authors Michael Wara

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Ever since @JesseJenkins and colleagues work on a zero carbon US and this work by @DrChrisClack and colleagues on incorporating DER, I've been having the following set of thoughts about how to reduce the risk of failure in a US clean energy buildout. Bottom line is much more DER.

Typically, when we see zero-carbon electricity coupled to electrification of transport and buildings, implicitly standing behind that is totally unprecedented buildout of the transmission system. The team from Princeton's modeling work has this in spades for example.

But that, more even than the new generation required, runs straight into a thicket/woodchipper of environmental laws and public objections that currently (and for the last 50y) limit new transmission in the US. We built most transmission prior to the advent of environmental law.

So what these studies are really (implicitly) saying is that NEPA, CEQA, ESA, ยง404 permitting, eminent domain law, etc, - and the public and democratic objections that drive them - will have to change in order to accommodate the necessary transmission buildout.

I live in a D supermajority state that has, for at least the last 20 years, been in the midst of a housing crisis that creates punishing impacts for people's lives in the here-and-now and is arguably mostly caused by the same issues that create the transmission bottlenecks.