New electric transmission is needed for enhanced reliability, to serve regional markets, and to deliver electric power from renewable energy projects to load centers. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct) included provisions to improve the siting and permitting of transmission lines on federal lands. Unfortunately, those improvements have been slow to be implemented, or once tried, impeded by court challenges.
In October 2011, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) established the Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), headquartered in the Department of Energy (DOE), to find ways to facilitate and expedite review of proposed transmission line projects on federal lands. The ultimate goal of the RRTT is to implement institutional changes in the way transmission is sited and permitted. Seven pilot projects were chosen in 2011 to identify opportunities for streamlining reviews and improving interagency coordination, and RRTT completed site visits to all pilot projects in 2012. From these visits, they identified and developed a list of systemic changes needed to improve federal siting and permitting. They are currently working to codify these regulatory changes in a new rule and a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) is expected in the 3rd quarter of 2013.
EEI has been actively involved in the work of the RRTT. EEI was asked to provide training material to agency staff in 2012. EEI secured the participation of member company representatives to participate in CEQ’s Stakeholder Workshop on Transmission Permitting and Review held April 16, 2013.