FERC MAKES PROGRESS ON
The lengthy process of setting federal
transmission corridors took a couple of steps forward
late this week.
On Thursday the Federal Energy Regulatory
Commission (FERC) issued rules to implement federal
transmission siting under its new authority from
the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct). In a related
matter, on the same day the Senate Energy Committee
held a hearing to consider the President’s nomination
of Kevin Kolevar to be Assistant Secretary at the
Department of Energy (DOE) overseeing DOE’s part
of the federal transmission corridor process. Finally,
also this week, at its annual meeting the National
Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners
(NARUC) held a session on the topic.
AWEA Policy Director Rob Gramlich
expressed optimism about the recent progress on
the transmission corridor process. “[W]hile there
are some hurdles, the process seems to be moving
forward,” said Gramlich, who was a panelist at the
NARUC event. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see transmission
corridors designated for the most critical areas
for reliability in a matter of months and progress
on corridors for renewable energy not long after
The EPAct provides for DOE to designate
National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors.
The legislation gives FERC the authority to issue
permits for construction of transmission facilities
through these corridors. AWEA has advocated designating
corridors towind-rich areas. (See www.awea.org/policy/regulatory_policy/transmission.html).
Some states and local officials have opposed corridor
designation. At the hearing for Kolevar, Senator
Bingaman (D-NM) asked about his support for the
wind system integration program and Senator Salazar
(D-CO) asked about transmission corridors to access
At the NARUC conference, Gramlich
said that ideally, DOE will use its authority to
work with states and remove roadblocks, and that
FERC will never have to use the authority to pre-empt
state authority and issue construction permits.
Gramlich was on a panel with the CEO of Allegheny
Energy, Paul Evanson, DOE’s Mark Whitenton, New
York Public Service Commission Chairman Bill Flynn,
North Dakota Commissioner Susan Wefald, and Vermont
Commissioner David O’Brien. The northeastern states
are urging careful consideration and state consultation,
while some states that would like to develop and
export wind energy support corridor designation.