Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Mid-Atlantic Region & West Designated Nat'l Power Corridor

The U.S. Department of Energy has declared an area from New York to Virginia to be a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (NIETC). This DOE designation gives the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Committion (FERC) eminent domain power to seize land needed for high power transmission lines. The NIETC was created by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and gives FERC authority to override local opposition to the siting of transmission lines if a region's power needs are designated as reaching a "critical" level. FERC has made such a designation and now companies will look to DOE if states and local authorities stonewall all transmission plans.

The Center supports the NIETC designation and supported the EPACT of 2005. FERC will only grant eminent domain if utilities prove a serious need for a new line, that they have selected a reasonable location and they have encountered unacceptable delays. FERC will not offer automatic endorsement and we believe the agency will use the eminent domain powers responsibly.

DOE also designated nearly all of Southern California and parts of Arizona as "national interest" energy transmission corridors. Just as in the Mid-Atlantic region, this action allows federal regulators to approve new high-voltage towers and lets private utilities condemn homes and land even if a state agency will not. Six California jurisdictions in their entirety are designated as "national interest electric transmission corridors," including Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Kern and San Diego counties.

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