The siting and permitting of interstate and inter-regional high-voltage transmission typically requires action by many different authorities governing the federal, state, local, tribal, and private lands that facilities will pass through. Projects involving multiple agencies are subject to a wide array of processes and procedural requirements for compliance with legal mandates and multiple authorizations. The time required to meet these legal mandates can be reduced through effective planning processes that take advantage of existing rights-of-way.

But where such rights-of-way are not available, siting and permitting processes can significantly slow development and should be conducted efficiently, with clear expectations and predictable timelines and processes. This should occur without sacrificing critical analysis, protection of environmental, cultural, and other important values, or robust public engagement. 

DOE intends to coordinate with states, tribes, and federal permitting agencies to help facilitate the siting and permitting process, including through consideration of the following actions:

Federal Permitting Coordination

DOE works with the Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC) created through the Fixing America’s Service Transportation Act (FAST Act), to facilitate coordination and oversight procedures for federal environmental review and permitting process related to eligible large-scale infrastructure projects. FPISC’s Federal Infrastructure Projects Permitting Dashboard is a powerful interagency coordination tool that tracks large and complex infrastructure projects through the Federal government’s environmental review and authorization processes. DOE works through FPISC to evaluate and maintain which nationally significant transmission projects are included on the dashboard, as well as to bolster preapplication planning for transmission projects, which allows transmission project developers a mechanism for early coordination and information sharing with permitting agencies and the opportunity to streamline federal permitting actions.

Public-Private Partnership Projects

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes authority for the Secretary to enter into public-private partnerships for the development of transmission facilities. The Administrators of two of DOE’s Power Marketing Authorities, Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA) and Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), similarly have authority to enter into public private-partnerships for the development of transmission facilities specifically in their jurisdictions. In this way DOE can help facilitate transmission development in areas where state or local permitting requirements would otherwise make a project difficult or impossible to complete. 

Designation of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs or National Corridors)

National Corridors can be any area experiencing or expected to experience electricity transmission capacity constraints or congestion that adversely affects consumers. National Corridors are designated by the Secretary of Energy after a thorough and extensive evaluation. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) then has authority to issue permits for the construction or modification of electric transmission facilities in those National Corridors. In order to facilitate the efficient consideration of projects seeking a FERC-issued permit, DOE intends to provide a process for the designation of National Corridors on a route-specific, applicant-driven basis.

Further, in order to enable effective use of both DOE’s route-specific National Corridor process and FERC’s permitting process, DOE and FERC intend to work together, as appropriate, to establish coordinated procedures that facilitate efficient information gathering related to the scope of activities under review pursuant to these authorities. 

By harmonizing, to the greatest extent practicable, pre-filing and application processes, DOE and FERC can work with applicants to identify and resolve issues as quickly as possible; share information in a timely fashion; and expedite reviews conducted pursuant to these authorities, the National Environmental Policy Act, and other requirements.

Federal International Electricity Program

U.S. trade in electric energy with Canada and Mexico is rising, bringing economic and reliability benefits to the United States and its trading partners. The Grid Deployment Office is responsible for authorizing exports of electric energy and issuing Presidential permits for the construction, operation, maintenance, and connection of electric transmission facilities at the international border.  

Additional Regulatory Authorities and Permitting Activities