Building high voltage transmission lines has never been easy, but now it’s arguably both harder than ever, and more necessary than ever, as we seek to unlock the vast potential of wind and solar in the US and ship it to major population centers. But it’s not a business for the faint of heart, as we’ll hear in this incredible story by award-winning investigative reporter and author Russell Gold of the Wall Street Journal. His new book, Superpower, chronicles the story of Michael Skelly, a developer who spent a decade and a great deal of money trying to build five major transmission lines in the US to support the burgeoning wind industry, only to be undermined, deceived, shot down, and ultimately driven to giving up, by people who opposed the lines for their own selfish interests. It’s an amazing story and a great cautionary tale for any prospective transmission line developer, as well as a wellspring of crucial insights that will benefit all who work in energy transition.
Russell Gold is an award-winning investigative reporter and author who has been writing about energy since 1996. has dodged polar bears on Alaska’s North Slope, climbed a wind turbine in Oklahoma, and spent time on frac pads from Carrizo Springs to Fort Worth and Odessa to Carthage. He worked at the San Antonio Express-News before joining the Wall Street Journal, where he worked from 2000 to 2021. Gold has won multiple business-writing awards and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the electric line–caused Camp Fire in California. His 2014 book, The Boom, was long-listed for the FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year prize. His 2019 book, Superpower, profiles Houstonian Michael Skelly’s attempt to build a very, very long extension cord. Gold joined Texas Monthly in 2021 to write about the business of Texas. He lives with his wife in Austin.
On Twitter: @russellgold
On the Web: www.russellgold.net
Recording date: May 17, 2019
Air date: June 26, 2019
Geek rating: 3