Bingaman strongly cautions FERC against their recent scheme to have DOE designate their authority to FERC for siting NIETC corridors. FERC's plan even takes it one step further and intends to let transmission owners designate NIETCs. The end result will be the industry essentially "regulating" itself and calling all the shots about siting and paying for new transmission lines. FERC is just a little too close to the industry it supposedly regulates. This costs consumers higher electric rates resulting from the financial goodies FERC keeps handing to its favored industry pets.
"The Commission papers appear to be based upon, or at least inspired by, a third paper prepared by former FERC Chairman Joseph Kelliher. In his paper, Mr. Kelliher asserts that section 216 “was not well conceived or well drafted,” that it “unnecessarily bifurcated the federal role between” the Department and the Commission, and that this “bifurcation of the federal role between two agencies was a mistake.” Congress’s legislative mistake, he suggests, can be fixed by administrative “re-implementation” of the law."
FERC's mission is to ensure just and reasonable utility rates in the public interest. Since when is taking direction from industry lobbyists like Kelliher in the public interest?
Although Bingaman is a big fan of federal transmission siting authority and a bunch of other things that aren't good for the public, he at least has the decency to tell FERC and DOE that doing this would be a BIG mistake.
"Rewriting section 216 under the guise of reinterpreting it, as the Commission proposes, is extremely ill-advised. It would do serious harm to our efforts to strengthen the federal siting role through legislation."
So, now we have a Congressman who worked on Sec. 216, numerous states, the National Association of Regulatory Commissioners, Piedmont Environmental Council and the public telling Wellinghoff to scrap this stupid idea and save face. However, the industry is whining in his other ear about how they "need" new transmission to make a bundle of money at the expense of the public. Give up, FERC, you've been had.
As so often happens in the political world, your "friends" are also your enemies. This paragraph of Bingaman's letter should give everyone the willies:
"As one of the principal authors of section 216, I am writing to express my serious concerns with the Commission’s proposal. I do so as one who has long supported giving the Commission greater authority to site electric transmission facilities. I agree that section 216 is flawed and has proved ineffective. I wish Congress had gone further than it did when it enacted section 216, and I have authored legislation, which has yet to be enacted, to strengthen section 216 and correct many of its shortcomings."
I've just spent way too much time I didn't have to waste trying to find any current legislation, but I continually came up empty handed. There's plenty of old, failed attempts by Bingaman on record, but nothing recent. If anyone can find this referenced legislation "which has yet to be enacted," send it over.