New transmission rule aims to improve permitting process, reduce conflicts and lead to better quality projects. | Energy Department photo

More than three years ago, President Obama directed the Energy Department to improve how federal, state, local and tribal governments work together to modernize our aging electric transmission grid. Why? Because a strong transmission system doesn’t just improve reliability and lower electricity costs. It’s the backbone of our nation’s economy.

Project developers have long faced challenges to efficiently building modern infrastructure for important transmission projects, including ensuring that they have engaged with the appropriate stakeholders before they apply for the necessary transmission permit application.

Today’s announcement of the Final Rule for the Integrated Interagency Pre-Application (IIP) Process is an important step toward delivering on the President’s vision for spurring transmission development and is a key deliverable for the Climate Action Plan. That means it is good news not just for our efforts to act on climate change, but also for communities where these transmission projects will eventually be built. A more efficient process can reduce conflicts and lead to better quality projects.

The IIP Process encourages robust early coordination prior to the submission of a formal transmission permit application. That includes increased engagement with the Energy Department as a coordinating agency, as well as relevant state, local, and tribal stakeholders.

And we know the IIP will work. That’s because we applied the principles of the IIP on two existing and recent Presidential Permit applications for clean energy transmission.  The processes for the Great Northern Transmission Line from Manitoba, Canada to Grand Rapids, Minnesota and the New England Clean Powerlink from the U.S. Canadian border to Vermont gave us a glimpse of the rule’s potential.

Typically, the transmission permitting process takes years. With significant pre-planning and public outreach on both proposed projects prior to submitting a formal transmission permit application, review time was 16 months and 17 months from the beginning of the application process to the issuance of a Final Environmental Impact Statement, respectively.

While the Department has not yet issued Records of Decisions on these proposed projects, the review time was significantly reduced. That is an encouraging sign for project developers, who will continue to play an important role in building the infrastructure we need to strengthen and modernize the grid.

For more information on the IIP, please visit Energy.gov.