Don't kid yourself by thinking the battle is over. DOE's statement says they "will work more closely with the FERC in reviewing proposed electric transmission projects under section 216 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), as an alternative to delegating additional authority to FERC."
So, in other words, instead of officially giving FERC the authority, DOE is just going to let FERC unofficially run the show. FERC's plans included allowing transmission developers to designate corridors at will when proposing a new transmission project. DOE's plan includes this as well. In addition, DOE says they will:
- Begin immediately to identify targeted areas of congestion based on the evaluation of existing information and on comments submitted by stakeholders;
- Identify narrower areas of congestion than the broad areas previously studied; and
- Solicit statements of interest from transmission developers while considering what National Corridors to designate.
At the same time, you've got FERC considering an update of their transmission incentives through a Notice of Inquiry. Over a hundred sets of comments were submitted in that docket (RM11-26-000) and present a clear picture of what's driving development of new transmission development. Money. Transmission projects, whether they are "needed" or not, provide a tidy income for energy corporations and investors. Since transmission projects are funded in their totality by electric consumers, the building of unnecessary transmission infrastructure has the potential to send electric rates skyrocketing.
Keep watching this one to see how much of FERC's original plan to anoint itself with federal transmission siting and permitting authority ends up being carried out in DOE's name.
This charlie foxtrot has reached critical mass. Why are we still operating under 6 year old energy policy? Six years ago, FERC, regional grid operator PJM, politicians and the energy industry thought expanded uses for coal fired resources was a good idea. Energy and how we use it has come a long way since then. The only smart solution is for Congress to develop new energy policy instead of observing and complaining while the energy industry, their lobbyists and the government political appointees manipulate bad policy to continue on this transmission highway to hell at electric consumer expense.
Radix malorum est cupiditas.