Coordinating Interstate Electric Transmission Siting: An Introduction to the Debate

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Report: Coordinating Interstate Electric Transmission Siting: An Introduction to the Debate


In recent years, experts have started drawing att ention to the need to improve the system that transmits electricity from power plants to demand centers. Congestion on existing lines, increased energy demand that suggests a need for new electric transmission and the challenge of connecting renewable energy sources to load centers highlight some needs that could be underserved by the existing system in the near future. While improved demand-side management (including energy effi ciency and demand response), bett er utilization of the existing transmission grid, and other strategies (such as distributed generation) will be key components of the response taken to meet this challenge, another component may be greater coordinated interstate transmission siting for new transmission facilities. These eff orts come with their own set of complications, however, since transmission siting has in many respects been the responsibility of individual States. New transmission oft en faces signifi cant scrutiny, even when limited to a single jurisdiction, based on the concerns of property owners and others aff ected by the siting of these facilities. Interstate facilities can bring the added issues of the assignment of costs and benefi ts across diff erent jurisdictions. The emergence of new Federal roles in siting also adds a layer of detail with which State policymakers must become familiar. Interstate coordination, as well as federal-State jurisdictional issues that arise, will require careful consideration.

Lively debate about interstate transmission siting and related topics has been ongoing for some time. This paper is writt en fi rst and foremost for Commissioners, staff , and others who are new to the debate and looking for a resource that introduces the issues that are relevant to it. The paper introduces some of the challenges related to the siting of new interstate transmission lines as well as specifi c questions that such projects would require regulators and policymakers to answer. It outlines recent changes in federal policy that aff ect State policy and regulatory arenas, followed by a review of State statutes and a discussion of language in these statutes that may impede or enhance interstate transmission siting coordination. Aft er the examination of individual States, the paper addresses a number of potential avenues that may help create directions for regional coordination. Lastly, a few recommendations are suggested for State-level action. This paper was prepared for the members of each of the four groups comprising the National Council on Electricity Policy (NCEP). These groups include the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, the National Association of State Energy Offi cials, the National Governors’ Association, the National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA) and the National Conference of State Legislatures. More information on the National Council can

be found at

Julia Friedman and Miles Keogh

National Council on Electricity Policy

National Council on Electricity Policy, 2008

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Internet link for Coordinating Interstate Electric Transmission Siting: An Introduction to the Debate


Julia Friedman, Miles Keogh (National Council on Electricity Policy). 2008. Coordinating Interstate Electric Transmission Siting: An Introduction to the Debate. Washington, D.C.: National Council on Electricity Policy.