The Federal international electricity program consists of two elements:
- Granting Presidential permits for the construction, connection, operation and/or maintenance of electric transmission lines which cross the U.S. international border; and
- Authorizing exports of electric energy to foreign countries.
The authority to grant Presidential permits is derived from the constitutional power of the President to protect the territorial integrity of the United States.
The authority to regulate the export of electric energy is based on the statutory authority contained in section 202(e) of the Federal Power Act (FPA).
Executive Order 8202, issued by President Roosevelt in 1939, prohibited anyone from constructing or operating electric transmission facilities at the U.S. international border without first receiving a permit from the President. All permits were signed by the President until 1953, when Executive Order 10485 transferred permitting authority to the Chairman of the Federal Power Commission, where it remained until 1977. In 1977, Executive Order 12038 transferred the authority to the Secretary of Energy who delegated it, first, to the Administrator of the Economic Regulatory Administration, and then, to the Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, who further delegated the authority to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fuels Programs.
On October 21, 1980, the Department of Energy issued the current regulations implementing its authority under E.O. 12038 and section 202(e) of the FPA. These appear in the October 28, 1980 issue of the Federal Register (45 FR 71558) and in the Code of Federal Regulations at 10 CFR Part 205. Additional regulations that shift some costs from the government to the applicant appeared in the July 25, 1983 issue of the Federal Register (48 FR 33816).