Feds decide not to delegate more transmission authority

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Yesterday, I wrote about the Department of Energy's proposal to delegate increased electric transmission siting authority to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Since the enactment of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Department has had the authority to study congestion on the transmission system, and designate national interest electric transmission corridors where it believes more transmission facilities are needed.  The act also gave the Commission “backstop” authority to approve transmission line routes when states fail to issue approvals within a year.

Until yesterday, Secretary Chu was considering whether to delegate the Department's congestion study and corridor designation functions to the Commission.   Supporters of the increased delegation said it would facilitate the development of new transmission facilities needed both for future load growth and to connect renewable energy resources to customers.  Opponents, including congressional leaders, noted that Congress had specifically divided the functions for good reasons, while states' rights advocates objected to increased consolidation in the Commission of power over transmission line siting -- traditionally a prerogative of each state.

Now, the Department and the Commission have issued a joint statement that transmission backstop siting authority will not be delegated.  Instead, the joint statement proclaims "enhanced cooperation" as an alternative to delegating additional authority to the Commission, along with process improvements within the Department to allow more expeditious transmission siting.

No comments:

Post a Comment