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Energy & Environment

FERC commissioner says energy infrastructure is a challenge

A member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission says continued energy development will need infrastructure development. – such as pipelines and power lines.

But Tony Clark says it won’t be easy.

“Infrastructure is getting much, much more difficult to build,”said Clark. He  says it used to be that opposition to some pipelines and power lines would be termed “NIMBY" -- "Not In My Backyard." Now, he says, it’s become “NOPE" -- "Not On Planet Earth."

Clark says most regulators could deal with “NIMBY.”

“It's a landowner saying, 'Here's why I don't think it should be in this place,'" said Clark. "It might be a parochial reason, or it might be a good reason. But regulators need that information to site a line.”              

But he says “NOPE” is different.

“They don't want the infrastructure at all," said Clark. "It's not about where the structure should go -- it's that they don't believe the infrastructure should exist.”

Clark says that could be a recipe for disaster – trying to change energy generation quickly without having the infrastructure in place.

“If it does not get built, energy will be much more expensive," said Clark. "But you can also run into reliability problems.”

Clark says Germany, for example, tried to wean itself quickly off coal-fired electricity – without having the new infrastructure in place. He says German customers paid three times the rates US customers did.

Clark is a former North Dakota Public Service Commissioner. He spoke at the Great Plains EmPower Conference in Bismarck.

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