Citing its commitment to improving the regulatory environment for the planning, development, siting, and construction of transmission infrastructure, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) weighed in at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in support of the transfer from DOE to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) of certain directives regarding transmission corridors authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct05). In a letter to DOE, NEMA offered its support for a draft proposal that would put into a single agency all EPAct05 authorities related to improving interstate transmission infrastructure in the most congested areas of the country.

“NEMA was influential in making the case to Congress for a greater federal role in the development of certain interstate transmission lines,” said NEMA VP of Government Relations Kyle Pitsor. “Unifying these authorities at FERC should offer a fresh start for the implementation of the law.”

EPAct05 gave DOE and FERC complementary responsibilities to improve the nation’s ability to develop high-priority transmission lines. FERC and DOE have drafted a plan that would move DOE’s authorities to conduct triennial transmission congestions studies and to establish National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETC) to FERC. EPAct05 had already assigned FERC to issue permits for construction within DOE-identified NIETC.

Since enactment of the law, two court decisions invalidated FERC’s backstop siting authority in these transmission corridors as well as DOE’s designation of the two NIETC themselves, one in the Mid-Atlantic and the other in the Southwest.

“These setbacks require the agencies to re-evaluate the way forward,” Pitsor said. “This administrative action, along with FERC’s careful application of any new authorities provided to it in accordance with EPAct05 and the provisions contained in FERC’s Order No. 1000, would reduce congestion on our nation’s electric grid, facilitate siting of new transmission infrastructure, and improve the delivery of power from where it is produced to where it is consumed by residential, commercial, and institutional end-users.”