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A Word from John Hofmeister
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More Infrastructure
Wednesday, April 21, 2010@ 2:54 PM
Author: admin

Energy is produced where it is most efficient to produce it. Most times that means it is a long way from the consumer. While oil, gas and coal can be transported, most people prefer not to live right next door to the production facilities that make, store or distribute the energy that comes from such facilities. The structures that move energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed is called infrastructure. Infrastructure exists in many forms. It includes platforms to drill and produce oil and gas, coal mines, pipelines, rail lines and rail yards, storage tanks, transmission towers and lines, substations, transformers, poles and lines, ethanol distilleries, wind farms, liquefied natural gas re-gasification terminals, hydro-electric dams, nuclear plants, and the so-called “green spaces” that often surround critical infrastructure.

We know how important infrastructure is when it quits working. Whether from a storm, a hurricane, a tornado, an ice storm, a black-out or brown-out, we often don’t think about infrastructure except when it breaks or also when it is proposed to be built near where we live. In recent decades the issues of so-called “nimbyism” (not-in-my-backyard-ism) have made the building and even the maintenance of infrastructure very challenging.

In addition there is something called “legal infrastructure.” Legal infrastructure is the permitting, licensing and pricing systems by which physical infrastructure is built or not, maintained, or updated, or sometimes removed. The terms used in the energy industry are “commissioning”, “re-commissioning”, or “de-commissioning.”

Both physical and legal infrastructure are absolutely essential to a national energy plan and, similar to other critical elements such as supply, technology and environmental Protection, must be founded upon a short, medium and long term outlook and plan.

Much of our traditional hydrocarbon infrastructure is aging. Oil, gas and coal have been around a long time. Its infrastructure needs constant maintenance and sometimes needs to be expanded or replaced. Likewise our 100 plus nuclear plants and numerous hydro-electric dams have been around a long time and may need updating and re-commissioning, or de-commissioning. The future promises many new and exciting alternative sources of energy as well. Each one of the new alternatives requires new and often different infrastructure than what exists today. All new infrastructure needs to be built to bring energy from where it is produced to where it is consumed. As the nation’s economy grows and we continue to adhere to our lifestyles, which consume considerable energy, we must have a plan for infrastructure that conveys supply to meet the demand.

That physical infrastructure only happens if the legal infrastructure lets it. We depend today upon legal rules and regulations which date back sometimes more than 100 years. Most of it at least more than 50 years. We must ask ourselves as citizens two questions: can we allow current infrastructure to be updated and new infrastructure to be built? Can we do so in affordable ways, which means also updating and even revising existing rules and regulations to make it possible.

Everyone knows an example or two of proposed energy infrastructure projects that have been delayed for years or even decades and sometimes projects that have been deferred so long that they have been cancelled. Most often the loss of infrastructure or the failure to license and build infrastructure has led to ever higher energy costs in the area that restricts it. There are many instances of job losses and job opportunities foregone because of the inability to obtain affordable energy due to infrastructure delays.

Citizens for Affordable Energy is prepared to put forth a comprehensive and coherent infrastructure plan that addresses both existing and new infrastructure, both physical and legal, that meets short, medium and long term requirements for carrying energy to where it is needed in consultation with American citizens for political leadership to consider. Citizens have a right to sound, factual information upon which to make rational choices. Citizens for Affordable Energy looks forward to providing such information without ideological fervor or partisan political viewpoints. We hope to play a role to inform future choices in the months and years ahead

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