Section 1222 Program – Proposed Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project Frequently Asked Questions

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Note: DOE intends to update these FAQs as more information about the proposed project and the review process becomes available

FAQs:​

1. What is the Section 1222 Program?

Pursuant to Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (42 U.S.C. 16421), the Secretary of Energy, acting through the Southwestern Power Administration (Southwestern) or the Western Area Power Administration (Western), has the authority to design, develop, construct, operate, own, or participate with other entities in designing, developing, constructing, operating, maintaining, or owning two types of projects: (1) Electric power transmission facilities and related facilities needed to upgrade existing transmission facilities owned by Southwestern or Western (42 U.S.C 16421(a)), or (2) New electric power transmission facilities and related facilities located within any State in which Southwestern or Western operates (42 U.S.C. 16421(b)). In carrying out either type of proposed project, the Secretary may accept and use funds contributed by another entity for the purpose of executing the proposed project (42 U.S.C 16421(c)). The purpose of the program is to reduce electric transmission congestion and/or increase electric transmission capacity. The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Section 1222 Program is administered by the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE).

2. What Is the Process DOE will use to Review Applications Under the Section 1222 Program?

DOE will conduct two concurrent reviews for all complete applications received. DOE will conduct a review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which will consider the impacts of the project on environmental, historic, cultural, and socioeconomic resources. DOE will also conduct due diligence on non-NEPA factors such as the project’s technical and financial feasibility, and whether the project is in the public interest.

3. Besides NEPA, Which Factors Will DOE Consider in Making its Decision?

DOE will conduct a thorough review that includes making all required statutory findings. DOE will consider all criteria listed in Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as well as all factors included in DOE’s 2010 Request for Proposals.

4. How Many Section 1222 Applications Are Currently Being Reviewed by the DOE?

The Department is currently considering only the Plains & Eastern proposed project.

5. How Can I Comment on the Proposed Plains & Eastern Project?

The public has had the following opportunities to comment:

- Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): DOE has drafted an EIS for the proposed Plains & Eastern project, pursuant to NEPA. The Draft EIS responds to the 664 public scoping comments/documents received during the public scoping period, which began with the publication of the Notice of Intent on December 21, 2012, and ended in March 2013.

The Draft EIS presents the potential environmental, historic, cultural and socioeconomic impacts of a No Action Alternative, the proposed route, and reasonable alternatives. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published a Notice of Availability of the Draft EIS in the Federal Register on December 19, 2014, which began the 90-day public comment period. DOE also provided notice that the Draft EIS is available for public review through a Notice of Availability in the Federal Register, an announcement on DOE’s Plains & Eastern EIS website and the DOE NEPA Website, and through other channels of communication. These notices described how to comment on the Draft EIS and provided the date, time, and location of public hearings on the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS is posted on DOE’s Plains & Eastern EIS website and the DOE NEPA Website. The Draft EIS assessed the potential environmental effects of participating in the proposed project determination. During the comment period, DOE held 15 public hearings in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Approximately 950 comment documents were received from individuals, interested groups, tribal governments, and federal, state, and local agencies.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (DOE/EIS–0486; Final EIS) is now available on DOE’s Plains & Eastern EIS website and on the DOE NEPA website. DOE provided notice that the Final EIS is available through an announcement on DOE’s Plains & Eastern EIS website and the DOE NEPA Website, and through other channels of communication. The availability of the Final EIS will be announced shortly in the Federal Register by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Final EIS considers comments submitted on the Draft EIS, including those submitted during the public comment period that began on December 19, 2014, and ended on April 20, 2015. Late comments have been considered to the extent practicable. A Comment Response Document, included as Appendix Q of the Final EIS, contains the comments received on the Draft EIS and DOE's responses to these comments.

The publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project does not represent the Department of Energy's (DOE) final decision on whether to participate in the project. The release of the FEIS merely reflects the conclusion of DOE's environmental analysis of the proposed project in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. DOE is working diligently to evaluate the project. DOE has not decided whether to participate in the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project. If DOE decides to participate in the project, a Record of Decision will be posted no less than 30 days from the date of the publication of the FEIS.

- Issues Not Addressed in the EIS: Before DOE began its review of the non-NEPA factors discussed above, the applicant was required to submit further information and update its original application. Once DOE received the updated information, and deemed the application complete, it provided notice that the application was available for public review through a notice in the Federal Register and an announcement on the OE website. Publication of this notice in the Federal Register began a public comment period that began on April 28, 2015, and ended on July 13, 2015. All comments submitted during the comment period will be considered in the DOE’s ultimate decision as to whether to participate in the proposed project under the Section 1222 Program.

6. Where Can I Find the Application and Other Materials Related to the Proposed Project?

The NEPA-related materials (e.g., NOI, Scoping Summary, etc.) are posted on the Plains & Eastern EIS website. The Draft EIS and Final EIS are posted on the Plains & Eastern EIS website and the DOE NEPA website.

The application and other non-NEPA materials related to the proposed project are posted on OE’s website.

7. Which Parts of DOE Will Be Involved in Deciding Whether the Department Will Participate in the Proposed Plains & Eastern Project?

Southwestern and OE will review all application materials and public comments. Southwestern and OE will also consult with outside sources such as Transmission Organizations whose systems would be traversed by the proposed project. After all materials and information have been considered, the Secretary of Energy will decide whether to participate in the proposed project, in consultation with Southwestern and OE.

8. Has the Department Decided Whether to Participate in the Proposed Plains & Eastern Project?

DOE will decide whether to participate in the proposed project, a decision which would include route selection, once all environmental reviews and other due diligence have been completed. The publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project does not represent the Department of Energy's (DOE) final decision on whether to participate in the project. The release of the FEIS merely reflects the conclusion of DOE's environmental analysis of the proposed project in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. DOE is working diligently to evaluate the project. DOE has not decided whether to participate in the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project. If DOE decides to participate in the project, a Record of Decision will be posted no less than 30 days from the date of the publication of the FEIS.

9. Does Congress Have Oversight Over the 1222 Program?

Yes.

10. Is the Proposed Plains & Eastern Project Receiving Federal Grants or Loan Guarantees?

No.

11. Will the Proposed Plains & Eastern Project Use the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Siting Authority Under Federal Power Act Section 216(B) (Section 1221(A) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005)?

No. The proposed project is not located in a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor.

12. What Is the Docket Number for the Proposed Plains & Eastern Project?

The docket number for the Proposed Project is: OE Docket No. TPF-01

13. Are There Section 1222 Implementing Rules and Regulations?

The Section 1222 Program is managed pursuant to Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as well as guidance issued in a June 10, 2010 Federal Register notice, 75 Fed. Reg. 32,940.

14. Why is the DOE Conducting Two Public Comment Periods?

Proposed projects under the Section 1222 program undergo two separate reviews. The first review is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). For the NEPA review, the DOE held a 122-day NEPA public comment period, which ended April 20, 2015. The Final EIS, which is now available on the EIS website and the DOE NEPA website, considers comments submitted on the Draft EIS, including those submitted during the public comment period that began on December 19, 2014, and ended on April 20, 2015. Late comments have been considered to the extent practicable. The publication of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project does not represent the Department of Energy's (DOE) final decision on whether to participate in the project. The release of the FEIS merely reflects the conclusion of DOE's environmental analysis of the proposed project in compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. DOE is working diligently to evaluate the project. DOE has not decided whether to participate in the proposed Plains and Eastern Clean Line Project. If DOE decides to participate in the project, a Record of Decision will be posted no less than 30 days from the date of the publication of the FEIS.

The second, separate, public comment period concerns issues that were not part of the NEPA review. On April 28, DOE posted an updated and supplemented Plains & Eastern application for public review, which is standard for these types of proceedings. Although no separate public comment period is required by law, DOE accepted comments on whether the proposed project meets the statutory criteria listed in Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as well as all factors included in DOE’s 2010 Request for Proposals. The comment period was originally scheduled to end on June 12, 2015. However, DOE extended the time allowed for submittal of comments to July 13, 2015.

DOE will consider its evaluation findings and public comments received during each comment period in its final decision whether to participate in the proposed project. Therefore, it was important that DOE receive all comments by the close of the comment period in order to fully consider and review all comments received before making a final decision.

DOE has not determined whether the extension of the comment period will affect the schedule for the Secretary’s decision whether to participate in the project. It will depend on the nature of the comments received during the comment period.

15. Will There Be Public Hearings on the Proposed Project?

During the National Environmental Policy Act review for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, DOE held 15 public meetings in four states over four weeks from January 26 through February 19, 2015. There will be no further hearings associated with this project.

16. Why Can’t the Public View Confidential Information from the Application?

In order to fully evaluate a proposed project, DOE must have access to detailed business and financial information from the applicant, including confidential business information. To avoid harm to the competitive position of 1222 applicants, DOE does not disclose confidential business information to the public.

17. Has DOE Started Negotiating with Land Owners for Easements and Rights-of-Way?

DOE has not made a decision on whether to participate in the proposed project. If DOE were to ultimately agree to participate in the proposed project, several conditions would need to be met. One of those conditions is that eminent domain authority would be used only as a last resort after Clean Line’s negotiations in good faith have concluded with all affected landowners. Any decisions regarding the use of eminent domain must be based on project-specific findings. At this point, there is insufficient information to arrive at any conclusion about applicability to the Plains and Eastern project.

Any questions regarding the status of Clean Line’s negotiations with land owners should be directed to the applicant.