GEOG 469
Energy Industry Applications of GIS

Lesson 2 - Major Siting Challenges in the Energy Enterprise, Part 1


An Overview of Lesson 2

The siting of energy distribution and transmission is a complex maze of political, regulatory, legal, and environmental challenges. It is estimated that by 2035 the demand for new electric transmission lines will increase by 35 percent. In addition, it is estimated the number of oil and natural gas transmission lines will increase by 14 percent by 2030. National Public Radio reported on both energy demand and transmission grid needs in a series of 2009 articles on reinventing the U.S. power grid with an interactive presentation visualizing the U.S. electric grid.

In this lesson, we learn how the electrical transmission system works in the United States. Specifically, we will learn how it originated, how federal government regulations have influenced the development of the transmission grid, how siting criteria from state to state varies, and some of the major problems we have experienced with the grid over the years.

What will we learn in Lesson 2?

By the end of this lesson, you should be able to:

  • explain the history of the electrical transmission system;
  • explain how and when the system originated;
  • explain what influence the federal government had on the development of the system;
  • explain how the oil, natural gas, and gasoline pipeline transmission system operates;
  • discuss how siting criteria varies between states; and
  • discuss the major issues undermining the reliability of the electrical transmission system.

What is due for Lesson 2?

This lesson will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the course Calendar for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignments below can be found within this lesson.

  • Class discussion: What do you see as the major road blocks to expanding the U.S. electrical grid and natural pipelines?
  • Begin the "Learning ArcGIS Desktop (for ArcGIS 10)" course through the Esri Virtual Campus (due by the end of Lesson 4).


If you have any questions, please post them to our Questions? discussion forum in Canvas. I will check that discussion forum daily to respond. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help out a classmate.