Lessons on building transmission, from Michael Skelly

Source: By Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner • Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2019

 To succeed in overhauling the nation’s transmission lines, Democrats running for president would have to go further down the path forged by Houston-based entrepreneur Michael Skelly.

According to Wall Street Journal reporter Russell Gold, Skelly was “tantalizingly” close to building what would have been an “electricity expressway” delivering renewable energy across the country.

Gold profiled Skelly and his company’s nearly decadelong effort to fix the nation’s Balkanized power grid in a book this year titled, Superpower: One’s Man’s Quest to Transform American Energy.

An important case study: The book, and Skelly’s story, function as both a warning of and a guide to the challenges of building transmission lines, which Democratic presidential candidates such as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have made a focus of their aggressive climate plans.

Skelly folded his company, Clean Line Energy Partners, in 2017, after local organizing, political agitating, federal government delay, and utility disinterest killed his plan.

His 720-mile proposed line, called Plains & Eastern, would have moved power from Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee, with the capacity to carry 4,000 megawatts of wind and solar, enough to power 1.5 million homes.

“Skelly will play a role in getting this across the finish line,” Gold told Josh in a recent interview. “He may not get the glory of being there for the ribbon-cutting, but he is certainly one of the fathers of the idea.”

Read more of Josh’s story in this week’s Washington Examiner magazine.