The electric transmission grid is a highly complex and important piece of our nation's infrastructure, but it was mostly constructed decades ago. Today, we are placing increasing demands upon the grid and implementing smarter technologies that were never envisioned when the lines were being strung. Although I understand the need to upgrade and expand our transmission system, it must be done in a responsible manner.
First and foremost, new upgrades must be sited with deference to personal property rights. I do not support the expansion of federal powers of eminent domain and I believe that every effort should be made to locate new power lines on federal lands instead of private lands where it is feasible. I am not convinced that the federal government needs to play a larger role in the siting of transmission lines in the West, where we have a history of working together to solve our transmission siting conflicts.
Second, I believe the monetary costs of new transmission lines should be borne by those who require the new capacity. Because long-distance transmission of electricity results in significant efficiency losses, this policy will encourage the construction of fewer miles of lines, with generation located closer to demand, minimizing the footprint of new lines.
Finally, new transmission capacity should be secure from external threats. As new technology is connected to our grid we must work to ensure that each new connection is secure from cyber threats.
As the debate surrounding the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 moves from the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to the floor of the Senate, I will work to incorporate these and other policies to protect landowners and ratepayers into a final energy bill.