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Washington, D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today his decision that the Department of Energy will work more closely with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in reviewing proposed electric transmission projects under section 216 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), as an alternative to delegating additional authority to FERC.
Chu said, “This nation promptly needs to build the electric grid of the 21st century to compete in the global economy. Enhanced cooperation between DOE and FERC is the best way to help achieve this goal. I look forward to working with Chairman Wellinghoff as we take steps to ease congestion and increase reliability while modernizing the grid."
Secretary Chu and Chairman Wellinghoff announced that DOE and FERC will be working together to prepare drafts of the following:
(1) Transmission congestion studies mandated by Congress;
(2) Supplements to those congestion studies based on, among other things, the transmission plans prepared pursuant to Orders 890 and 1000; and
(3) The environmental analyses for any proposed National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (National Corridors).
In addition to collaborating with FERC, DOE recognizes that it can execute its § 216(a) powers better, faster, with more transparency, and more effectively. Consequently, among other things, DOE will be doing the following:
- Begin immediately to identify targeted areas of congestion based on the evaluation of existing information and on comments submitted by stakeholders;
- Identify narrower areas of congestion than the broad areas previously studied; and
- Solicit statements of interest from transmission developers while considering what National Corridors to designate.
DOE, FERC, and other federal agencies have been considering whether it might be appropriate for Secretary Chu to delegate his powers under FPA § 216(a) to FERC in order to efficiently expedite consideration of transmission project proposals under the limited backstop siting powers authorized by that section. In July and August, the proposal was presented to stakeholder groups to solicit comments. In addition to oral comments, 61 written comments were submitted. The comments can be found at http://www.congestion09.anl.gov/delegation/index.cfm. Secretary Chu carefully considered these comments in deciding not to delegate his authority to FERC.
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