I finally got around to reading this legislative Charlie Foxtrot. Here's what it intends to do for you!
It establishes "Regional Transmission Planners" as approved by FERC. In our region, that would be our biased friends at PJM Interconnection, who lied about the "need" for the PATH project for years.
These "Regional Transmission Planners" would apply to FERC for a federal Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity for the projects they "approve," and "substantial deference" by FERC would be given "to any proposed finding of public convenience and necessity by a regional transmission planner in a regional transmission plan" during a FERC "notice and opportunity for hearing." This completely cuts out any role for your state public service commission for any lines 230KV or higher. The bill says your state PSC still has "siting authority," unless they "den[y] a complete application seeking approval for the siting of the transmission facility." In other words, if your state PSC says "no," then FERC can overrule them and issue a permit. What kind of a role is that for the states?
Once FERC issues their permit, "A proposed finding by a regional transmission planner of public convenience and necessity regarding a regional transmission project is excluded from review under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.), provided an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement is required to be prepared by the Commission under such Act." That's right, FERC is going to do away with any environmental reviews and allow transmission projects to plow right through your backyard, or wherever else they please.
Well, isn't that special? This bill allows FERC, Regional Transmission Planners and Electric Utilities to operate outside the law, usurp existing state authority, and make sure you don't have a voice in what happens to your property. You also get to pay for these transmission projects as well, with delightful double-digit rates of return for the electric utilities.
According to this article, "Rob Thormeyer, a spokesman for the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said his group opposes the legislation. “It takes the local element out of siting, shutting out consumers and landowners,” he said in an email. “It would create a larger federal bureaucracy likely resulting in the unnecessary and inefficient building of transmission.”
The bill is currently in the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power (second committee listed on the page). Entertain yourself by calling up the members of this Committee and letting them know that you think this bill is a very bad idea. These representatives and the electric utilities must think we're morons. What a hoot!