Transmission Siting in Western United States: Overview and Recommendations Prepared as Information to the Western Interstate Energy Board

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Report: Transmission Siting in Western United States: Overview and Recommendations Prepared as Information to the Western Interstate Energy Board

Abstract

The electric transmission system in the western United States is inadequate to meet future loads and to transmit energy derived from an increasing number and variety of renewable energy resources. The bewildering variety of federal, state, and local requirements governing siting, construction, and operation of transmission systems complicates expansion of the transmission. Congress has enacted provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 designed to give the federal government overriding authority over transmission line siting decisions in certain circumstances, and further legislation is being proposed that would broaden federal authority and potentially supersede state authority over the siting of all major transmission facilities. The western states are uniquely positioned to assure that new transmission is optimally sited, environmentally responsible, economically feasible, and tailored to the needs of the region. However, to assure that the necessary infrastructure is developed, the states in the West will need to incorporate their best practices into a regional transmission siting regime. There are a number of examples of regional, multistate cooperation in the West that have facilitated uniform approaches to various issues by the participating states. These examples include the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission established under the federal Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and its successor, the Western Regional Air Partnership; the Western Climate Initiative; and the various model statutes that have been incorporated by individual legislatures into law and which, because of their consistency across state borders, facilitate multistate approaches to particular issues.

The regulatory systems for siting new electric transmission facilities vary from state to state. Some states have a centralized siting authority that has jurisdiction over a proposed project regardless of whether the developer is a regulated public utility, a municipality, or an independent operator. Others have regulatory authority that is fragmented, depending on whether the proponent of a project is subject to state regulatory commission jurisdiction. Some states require the siting authority to consider regional needs for transmission development in connection with a proposal, while others only require that state and local interests be considered. Some state siting authorities not only preempt but actually make decisions for the local governments affected by a proposed project, while other states reluctantly provide for a mechanism to appeal onerous local government requirements to the siting authority or another entity. This White Paper recommends the identification and adoption of the “best practices” of the various states into a regional transmission siting regime.

Authors 
James A. Holtkamp and Mark A. Davidson





Organizations 
Holland and Hart and LLP



Published 
Holland and Hart, LLP, 2009





DOI 
Not Provided
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Online 
Internet link for Transmission Siting in Western United States: Overview and Recommendations Prepared as Information to the Western Interstate Energy Board

Citation

James A. Holtkamp, Mark A. Davidson (Holland and Hart, LLP). 2009. Transmission Siting in Western United States: Overview and Recommendations Prepared as Information to the Western Interstate Energy Board. N/A: Holland and Hart, LLP.