The report is being pushed on the public by well-compensated industry spokespuppets Rick Boucher and Curt Hebert, who are joined by environmental patsy Allison Clements to recommend:
"Proposing an improved federal backstop siting authority for interstate transmission lines to replace the authority provided in EPAct 2005 – the authority is linked to transmission lines chosen through an Order 1000-compliant planning process, ensures states have a more significant role in determining the outcome of proposed transmission lines, and provides adequate protection of federal lands."
But here's what the Clueless "report" actually says:
"Congress should replace the existing backstop siting
authority in § 216 of the Federal Power Act with a
new, targeted backstop siting authority. In particular,
this new authority should provide that FERC may
grant a requested federal permit approving a
multistate HVDC or 765+ kV AC transmission project
within a state if: (1) the state siting authority (a) has denied the project without offering an alternative
route that is consistent with relevant state law, or
(b) has not issued a decision within 18 months
of receiving a completed application, or (c) has
insufficient authority to grant such an application;
and (2) the project has been approved by a state
siting authority in another state."
This isn't giving states a "more significant role in determining the outcome of proposed transmission lines," this is preemption of state authority in its entirety. Under this proposal, states have only one choice -- issue a permit or have the federal government do it for them. But this is nothing new. Former FERC Commissioner Suedeen Kelly said it quite succinctly in her 2007 dissent:
"The authority to lawfully deny a permit is critically important to the States for ensuring that the interests of local communities and their citizens are protected. What the Commission does today is a significant inroad into traditional state transmission siting authority. It gives states two options: either issue a permit, or we’ll do it for them. Obviously this is no choice. This is preemption."
Notice also that the Clueless recommendation only includes bestowing FERC backstop authority over HVDC or 765kV AC transmission lines. Why do you suppose that is? It's because the "task force" was stacked with American Electric Power executives, and AEP is the only company who builds 765kV lines. HVDC lines are favored by fake "renewable" transmission projects proposed by green shysters Clean Line Energy, whose "clean lines" will also carry fossil fueled electricity masquerading as "clean" energy. Clueless "environmental" organizations like NRDC have taken a big, long, drink of Clean Line's kool aid and think that by assisting corporate America in preempting regulation in order to build a whole bunch of new transmission will usher in a 100% renewable energy future. Not going to happen, so get out of bed with the devil. How did Obama's "Rapid Response Transmission Team" to ramrod the building of "renewable" transmission lines work out for you environmental groups? Aren't you all suing the National Park Service over its dirty decision to destroy the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area with a 500kV transmission line? How many times are you cleaniacs going to get duped by a greedy, dishonest industry before you wise up?
And how about this recommendation featured in the Clueless report:
"FERC should issue policy guidance clarifying
that regional transmission expansion plans may
appropriately include – and provide cost allocation
for – projects with capacity that will not be utilized
immediately if such projects: 1) enable the efficient use
of scarce rights of way, or 2) serve location-constrained
generation, and the projects will provide regional
benefits (including transmission access for future
renewable development) over their lifetimes."
So, the Clueless think that consumers should finance an overbuilding of transmission, just in case there's a need for it later? CONSUMERS CAN'T AFFORD THIS! How about you all "enable the efficient use of" existing rights of way by rebuilding and increasing the capacity of existing transmission lines all within existing rights of way first before building new lines on new "scarce" rights of way? And don't give me that "location constrained renewables" line either. Why is there absolutely no mention of offshore wind in your Clueless report? Why does your version of the wind map not include offshore resources? Is that because development of offshore wind doesn't require the building of a whole bunch hugely profitable new transmission lines by corporate America? Right.
The Clueless also refuse to examine a clue that's right under their noses. We may not need ANY of this new transmission they're in such a hurry to permit and build. In a 2012 "report" of its own, Failure to Act: The Economic Impact of Current Investment Trends in Electricity Infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers said:
“Anticipated future changes regarding the feasibility and implementation of distributed generation and smart grid technologies also add uncertainty about what future infrastructure system will look like. As the cost-effectiveness of small-scale generation equipment increases, there is a potential for more ‘distributed generation,’ with ‘microgrids’ that can reduce the need for future investment in large central generation plants and associated transmission lines serving them. As sophisticated 'smart grid' computer systems become more available to digitally monitor and instantaneously shift demand or reroute power (to offset equipment failures or other sudden supply and demand changes), there is also a potential for change in future needs for transmission and distribution investments.”
Or perhaps we should focus on the Clueless love for a bigger, more fragile grid to integrate huge quantities of unreliable, variable resources. Bigger does NOT mean more reliable.
So, what do others think about the Clueless report? The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) issued a press release stating:
“NARUC strongly opposes the recommendations calling for the expansion of the federal government’s authority to site transmission facilities. The report recommends that Congress give federal regulators permission to overrule a legitimate State decision determining that a power line is unnecessary if a nearby State with different needs and resources says that it is. Essentially this policy would give one State de-facto siting authority over another, which is certainly against congressional intent. Moreover, where current law limits the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s backstop authority to power lines in so-called ‘National Interest Electricity Transmission Corridors,’ the report recommends greatly expanding FERC’s authority nationwide. Therefore, this recommendation abandons the existing law’s goal of improving the efficiency of the transmission network by reducing congestion in favor of policies that increase rates for retail customers who receive little or no benefits, without necessary and proper oversight by the States."
NARUC also stated that they do not endorse any of the recommendations of the Clueless report. The real shocker here is that NARUC was included as a "contributing organization" to the report, but its advice and recommendations were completely disregarded by the industry and "environmental" sycophants who wrote the report.
NARUC failed to drink the kool aid and should be commended for standing up for the rights and wallets of the consumers they represent, who are the ultimate financiers and supposed beneficiaries of all this proposed new transmission.
NARUC says we don't need the Clueless recommendations. State authority to site transmission projects is NOT broken and the states are the ONLY ones looking out for the interests of consumers.