Sen. John Thune said Monday he disagrees with Sen. Barack Obama that federal money should be devoted to building wind energy transmission lines.
In an Argus Leader interview Friday, Obama said federal money should play a role in building transmission lines and tax incentives should be extended to help develop wind power.
While Thune agrees with the need to extend tax incentives, the private sector should be responsible for transmission lines, he told the Downtown Rotary Club at the Holiday Inn City Centre on Monday. Companies are willing to spend the money to build those lines as long as the tax incentives are continued, he said.
Any investment in wind energy will help South Dakota’s economy, Thune said, but he would like to see local organizations take a lead role.
“Wouldn’t it be great for these projects to be financed by local people and money?” he said.
Transmission lines are expensive. Materials can cost from $150,000 to $1 million per mile, according to Steve Wegmen, analyst for the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission.
Gary Hanson, chairman of the PUC, says states and counties disagree about where transmission lines should meet, just as they disagreed in the 1950s about roads before the interstate highway system. Hanson said the federal government should design an interstate transmission system similar to the highway system.
“If we build transmission in South Dakota, it can’t end at a cornfield in Minnesota,” Hanson said.
20 May 2008
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