NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: How DOE is leveraging federal authority to speed transmission development

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    Wednesday, December 14, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How DOE is leveraging federal authority to speed transmission development

    How DOE is leveraging federal authority to ease transmission development; The Dept. of Energy is exercising powers that allow it to speed siting and construction of interstate transmission

    Editor’s note: The new DOE head, Rick Perry, supported a major transmission build during his tenure as TX Governor, suggesting this Energy Department strategy could be seen again soon to support private sector transmission building.

    Herman K. Trabish, April 4, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    No matter what fuel mix the U.S. moves toward in the coming years, one thing seems certain: The nation will need more transmission. For the first time, the DOE is exercising a privilege granted to it by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to partner with independent transmission developers to facilitate the siting and construction of high-value power lines to link the nation's renewable energy development with centers of electricity demand…DOE and the developer, Clean Line Energy Partners (CLEP), will use federal powers granted in Section 1222 of the Act to complete the Plains & Eastern Clean Line, a $2 billion, 705-mile, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system. When completed, the project will enable the connection of 4,000 MW of Oklahoma and Texas wind capacity with load centers in Tennessee, Arkansas, and the wider Southeast.

    Announcement of the project approval was welcomed by the transmission industry, which for the first time will be able to use federal siting powers under the 2005 law to overrule state and local objections to transmission development along the line's route. But critics in the path of the project, who say the move infringes on private property rights and constitutes an overreach from the federal government, have vowed to fight on. Texas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee regulators granted CLEP the ability, if necessary, to compel *landowners into cooperation through eminent domain powers, with fair compensation and due process. The Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC), however, concluded it did not have the authority to grant an independent developer such powers. In DOE's Summary of Findings, the department wrote the state's power sector regulatory model is not designed for a world where non-utility developers are the ones to construct transmission projects… click here for more

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