Representatives from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Rosslyn, Va., recently expressed disappointment with the outcome of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) efforts to establish two National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETC) as a result of last week’s decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that overturned DOE’s 2007 NIETC designations. The NIETCs were proposed under authority granted in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58).
The court’s decision to invalidate the designation of these two corridors delays the timely development of a more reliable electric grid in two of the most congested areas in the country, maintains NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis. “Delivering power, including power from renewable energy sources, to where it is needed should be a national priority,” says Gaddis. “This cannot be done without adequate high-voltage transmission lines.”
DOE designated the Mid-Atlantic region and a region in the Southwest surrounding Los Angeles and San Diego as areas where electric constraint or congestion is hurting consumers to an unacceptable degree. While not an approval of any particular interstate transmission project, this designation would allow the applicant to apply to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) if the applicant fails to receive approval from a state.
According to NEMA, the court decision only reinforces the importance of the association’s advocacy for a legislative solution that gives FERC expanded authority to site high-priority interstate transmission lines and the ability to coordinate federal environmental reviews, just as FERC has for interstate natural gas pipelines. “The current process for siting interstate transmission lines is too slow and too costly to the public,” says Jim Creevy, NEMA director of government relations. “NEMA is redoubling its efforts to ensure that the nation’s transmission infrastructure is not an impediment to our energy security.”