GeoWorld August 2011

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BY JAMES KUIPER, BRIAN CANTWELL, IHOR HLOHOWSKYJ AND H. ROBERT MOORE Power Lines Placing GIS Helps Site Energy Corridors T 22 urn the lights on when you enter a room, then turn the lights off when you leave. Most of us repeat this sequence many times each day, and never give it another thought. But that seemingly simple light switch on the wall connects us to one of the most complex systems in the world: the electrical grid. Most of the United States is served by a highly reli- able and adequate supply of electrical power, which is distributed through a grid of thousands of miles of electricity-transmission lines. However, as the electricity- supply infrastructure ages and consumer demand for electricity grows, the capacity to deliver electrical power hasn't kept pace with demand, and upgrading the electrical-transmission grid has become a more pressing need. From 1988-1998, demand for trans- mission grew by 30 percent while transmission grew by GEO W ORLD / AUGUST 2O11 only 15 percent. From 1999-2009, demand grew by 20 percent and transmission by only 3 percent (www.aps. org/about/pressreleases/integratingelec.cfm). Despite a short-term decline related to the economic downturn and improved efficiency, U.S. energy consump- tion is expected to increase by 14 percent between 2008 and 2035 ( index.html). This growth will drive the need to develop viable routes for new transmission lines. Because transmission lines extend over large distances, they typically cross many federal, tribal, state, local and private land jurisdictions, each with a complex and varying set of siting issues and land- management practices. And as the existing grid needs improvement to meet growing demand, the U.S. is rapidly developing renewable energy sources, Infrastructure Management

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