Monday, March 09, 2009

Senator Harry Reid Introduces Transmission Legislation

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced the Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act of 2009 on March 5 that would establish renewable energy zones with significant generation potential and provide FERC with authority to site transmission lines to carry electricity from those zones to load centers. The legislation will require the president to designate renewable energy zones with significant clean energy generating potential. Then, a massive planning effort will begin in all the interconnection areas of the country to maximize the use of that renewable potential by building new transmission capacity. Under the legislation, states would propose cost allocation means to fund the new lines in the green transmission grid plans. If either process falters, the federal government would be given clear authority to keep things moving and get the new transmission built on schedule and funded equitably. The bill is aimed at promoting investment in transmission to increase access to renewable power and establishing a streamlined planning and siting process for transmission lines.

The bill allows transmission project developers to apply to FERC for federal backstop siting for green transmission projects that are part of the green transmission grid plan and integrate renewable energy resources from renewable energy zones, or for transmission projects that FERC determines are needed to integrate renewable generation resources. For states that participate in interconnection-wide planning, this bill requires FERC to consider state recommendations in siting the line, and to work with states to resolve differences. This bill gives FERC the authority to issue a construction permit, including the right of eminent domain, for green transmission projects that meet specific conditions, including a minimum renewable requirement, optimizing transmission capacity, and providing transmission access to states the project passes through. To coordinate the process of siting transmission on Federal lands, this bill sets FERC as the lead agency for environmental reviews, with a single environmental review document, and directs affected agencies to develop a memorandum of understanding, including a schedule for environmental review and a budget necessary to carry out the schedule.

See Also Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committe Majority Draft Bill

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