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DOE Releases Preliminary “Electric Transmission Corridors” Locations

The Department of Energy this week released a preliminary list of 10 “national interest electric transmission corridors” in the U.S. that it will target for accelerated transmission-project development (Law360, subscription).

What’s going on: The areas, known as NIETCs, are locations with ongoing electricity capacity constraints, congestion and/or limitations.

  • “In unveiling the potential NIETC designations on Wednesday, John Podesta, senior adviser to the president for international climate policy, said in the DOE’s press release that building out transmission as fast as possible is needed in order to reach the administration’s clean energy and climate goals.”
  • The announcement comes months after the department released final guidance on the four-phase NIETC designation process. It is now in phase two.

What it means: The designations, made possible by the 2023 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s amendment to the Federal Power Act, are “aimed at expediting the expansion of electric transmission that typically requires several years of permitting and siting. The next phase will include a narrowed list of potential NIETCs and is expected to begin in the fall of 2023, the DOE said.”

  • The final NIETC designations will have access to federal funding and permitting tools, including loans through the Transmission Facility Financing program established by the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

Yes, but … While the building of new transmission lines is important, the NIETCs program shines a spotlight on a larger problem in the U.S.: a broken energy project permitting system, the NAM said.

  • “The NAM supports more transmission buildout and accelerating the permitting process for new transmission lines,” said NAM Director of Energy and Resources Policy Michael Davin. “But we must reform the permitting system for other critical energy infrastructure: oil and gas pipelines, permanent carbon sequestration sites and more.”
  • “It’s also crucial that we work to speed up the judicial review process for energy projects, create enforceable deadlines and provide regulatory certainty to companies investing in the projects.”
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