Washington people were in full spin mode after passing the infrastructure bill. There is money for tangible stuff – electric vehicle chargers, transmission lines, towers, poles. This is enough of a challenge with recent supply chain problems. But a more contentious issue lurks.

What the bill can’t control is human nature. Especially the hair-trigger human nature of today.

Carolina Journal story emblematic of the issue

A recent column of mine listed states, counties, cities, and individuals that blocked transmission or distribution lines for the grid. It’s a thing. Big thing.  For example, the Person County, North Carolina Commission recently blocked the development of a solar farm there.  The Biden Administration and Congress have enacted an infrastructure plan, but your local county commission is where those plans could go to die.  Solar farm or transmission line – they have to be placed somewhere. But where?

“Siting transmission lines can often be a prolonged, contentious and expensive undertaking. …In some cases, projects may be tied up in approval by state regulators or litigation for years,” says a World Resources Institute report.

On the table is about $115 billion for grid infrastructure, cyber security, and climate-related changes.

From the bill. “We’re here to help.”

Here’s the issue: “The infrastructure legislation also aims to ease permitting of large regional and interregional transmission projects, allowing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve certain projects in national-interest electric transmission corridors if a state commission denies them or has not decided,” reports S&P Global.

So, the answer to citizen and state siting issues is using a bigger club. That is not likely to ease tensions in siting new facilities no matter how needed they are. And an upgraded grid is needed.