Thursday, October 01, 2009

Center Supports Interior Dept's Transmission Line Plan

Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar, left, has announced the the agency expects to approve seven major, wind and solar power renewable-energy transmission projects in western federal lands sometime in 2010. The Interior Department is streamlining the permitting process in order to accederate the construction of transmission proejects, which are opposed by local and state NIMBYs.

The projects range from 150 kilovolt to 500 kilovolt lines and Secretary Salazar anticipates the projects – among 30 applications the Bureau of Land Management is processing -- will get permits before the end of next year. A cabinet-level working group on transmission will be making recommendations for a national, coordinated transmission policy.


Is creating Renewable Energy Coordination Offices in western states to help swiftly complete reviews on the most ready-to-go solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass projects on public lands.

Has set aside 1,000 square miles of public lands in twenty-four “Solar Energy Study Areas” that the Department of the Interior is evaluating for environmentally appropriate solar energy development across the West.

Has invested $41 million through the President’s economic recovery plan to facilitate a rapid and responsible move to large-scale production of renewables on public lands.

Of the solar and wind projects currently proposed, more than 5,300 megawatts of new capacity could be ready for construction by the end of 2010. That is enough to power almost 1.8 million homes and could create over 48,000 construction jobs.

President Obama’s economic recovery plan makes an $11 billion federal investment in building a better and smarter electric grid. Over $3 billion is going straight to investments in smart grid projects across the country. And over four and a half billion is going to a nationwide effort to modernize the grid, improve security, and meet growing demand.

The Interior Department holds regular meetings with the Council on Environmental Quality, the Office of Energy and Climate Change, the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and others, in assembling a unified, forward-looking strategy for siting, cost allocation, and coordinating the permitting for proposed transmission projects.

BLM is currently processing 30 applications for major transmission rights-of-way on public lands we oversee.

Seven of these are “fast track” projects in Idaho, California, and Nevada. We anticipate these projects will clear the permitting process before the end of next year, in time to qualify for the incentives in the economic recovery act and to put people to work as soon as possible.

The major projects range from 115kv to 500kv. Together, they will add over 1,000 miles of new transmission.

They include:

1) The Barren-Ridge project
2) The Devers-Palo Verde Two Project
3) Hooper Springs
4) The Hemingway Butte
5) The Palisades-Goshen
6) The Southwest Intertie Project
7) The One Nevada Line

(DOI, WSJ, 9/30/09)

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