This really dumb argument has come from the spout of many different transmission developers over the past couple of years, and every time I hear it anew, it just sounds stupider. What kind of an idiot thought this up and then convinced transmission developers it was a sound argument that would convince the public to rally behind new transmission? Because I've seen it too many times for it to be an original argument gone viral. It's not even a good argument.
The electric utility supply of the United States is based on a sharing of facilities and energy sources for both purposes of supply and reliability. There are two transmission corridors whose final sections exist for the benefit of Sudbury, Maynard, and Concord. One begins in Medway and passes through Sherborn, Natick, Framingham, and Wayland. The second, which begins in Waltham, passes through Weston. In effect, the citizens of Medway, Sherborn, Wayland, Weston, Waltham, Framingham, and Natick have had to sacrifice some of their environment for the benefit of Sudbury.
A large group in Sudbury, Protect Sudbury, opposes this line, either overhead or underground, if built along an existing MBTA right-of-way. The group also opposes any overhead line through any route in Sudbury. If only the citizens of Wayland and Weston could have successfully opposed the construction of transmission towers in their towns that supply Sudbury! No tower, no power!
When do two wrongs make a right? This argument convinces no one. Not the transmission opponents who are supposed to somehow feel wrong and guilty about their opposition, and not the general public who already has power and a transmission line in their backyard. Everyone thinks this is a stupid argument, except maybe transmission developers and Gerald L. Wilson. I wonder if Mr. Wilson has a transmission line serving others in his backyard? I wonder if a new one serving others is proposed? Or is Mr. Wilson just spouting stupid transmission talking points to add some purpose to his happy, golden retirement years?
As if transmission itself isn't last century's technology, this argument is maybe supposed to take you way back to the electrification of America in the early part of the 20th century. In order to bring the wonders of electricity to every American, it was necessary to run lines across private property. Electric utilities were given eminent domain authority because electrifying the country was for the public good.
We've come a long way since then. Everyone who wants electricity in this country has electricity. No modern electric transmission line is for the purpose of bringing electricity to people who have none. Sometimes it's about reliability (but you just can't trust them because they have a tendency to claim a project is needed to keep the lights on when it's more about padding the corporate coffers). But more often than not new transmission these days is for other reasons that are more want than need.
1. To make power cheaper somewhere else.
2. To make power cleaner somewhere else.
3. To increase annual returns at investor owned utilities.
Eminent domain should never be used for these three reasons. They're not for the "public good" and only pit one group of citizens against the other to battle over which group's "good" can trounce the other's. Why does someone have to sacrifice for the "public good" of others? The 5th Amendment has been used way beyond its initial intent. How about this? No one loses, no one has to sacrifice for someone else.
I'm pretty sure if you asked some suburban neighborhood if they would support the destruction of hundreds of family farms so that they may save 2 cents on their monthly electric bill, nobody would go for it. It's all in how you shape the question.
Telling the suburban neighbors that family farmers are selfish NIMBYs who refuse to do their part to sacrifice for the benefit of others and keep the neighborhood's lights on may garner a different response.
That's what this stupid transmission argument is. Name calling. One of the seven common propaganda devices. It is intended to neutralize debate between groups by demonizing one of them as unacceptable and therefore ending the debate without actually engaging in it.
And it's not even a very good or convincing argument and is easily separated from the reality of today's transmission proposals. We all have electricity. Transmission lines to serve us were constructed years ago. Property with existing transmission lines is less valuable because people associate a negative stigma with transmission lines. New transmission lines are not necessary to provide electricity to new customers who are suffering without electricity. Not everyone needs to have a transmission line on their property in order to make sacrifice widespread and "even." Let's examine the merits of the particular transmission proposal instead of relying on the emotional push of propaganda. Could the new transmission line be avoided by rebuilding existing transmission lines? Could the new transmission line be avoided by building new generation closer to load? Should people make sacrifices for their own energy needs? Can the new transmission line be altered to be less invasive on land whose owners do not benefit from it?
The first time I heard the "someone sacrificed for you" argument I thought it was dumb. The second time I heard it, I thought the company using it was completely disconnected from public opinion to think that was a good argument. The third time I heard it, I started to believe that it had an origin bigger than one company's stupid idea. Is someone telling transmission developers that this is today's good argument? It's not.
Stop with the stupid propaganda tricks. They only work on stupid people. This argument is ineffective.