Less than three weeks ago, the Department of Energy declined to officially delegate their authority to designate National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors to FERC. This stunningly bad idea was the brainchild of former FERC Commissioner and current NextEra Energy lobbyist Joe Kelliher as a way to provide free transportation for his company's wind power resources to coastal load centers. Transmission lines aren't paid for by the utilities who invest their capital in the project, they are ultimately paid for by the ratepayers, with delicious double-digit incentive rates of return for the energy companies. Building unneeded new transmission lines is a cash cow for the utilities.
Today, Platts reports that new House legislation has been introduced that will give FERC the authority to site transmission lines and repeal the DOE's NIETC authority and replace it with a new FERC authority to designate transmission planning regions. Same stupid idea, different game plan.
This version of the game is credited to Jim Hoecker, former FERC chairman and lobbyist for the WIRES front group. Those former FERC Commissioners now raking in the millions by returning to the industry that spawned them in the first place are a dime a dozen.
Here's how it's supposed to work:
"These regions would then propose for FERC's approval high-votage transmission projects already included in the planning process.
Regional transmission planners could propose that FERC grant certificates for specific projects and the bill would require the commission to give these planners "substantial deference" for such requests.
The proposal also would permit FERC to issue permits to build interstate transmission lines.
The issuance of FERC certificates is modeled on FERC's gas pipeline siting authority, but the bill stops short of giving the commission eminent domain to order the construction of any line over the objection of affected landowners.
It also would retain states' authority to make decisions in the siting of local transmission lines."
Okay, so they have given FERC the authority to issue permits, and then "retain states' authority" by making them the bad guys who grant eminent domain to the power companies. No matter how they sugar-coat it, THIS PREEMPTS EXISTING STATE AUTHORITY, just like the industry lobbyists' last plan!
Once again, the investor owned utilities who stand to rake in huge profits with a new, free and easy, FERC-run, national siting and permitting policy state that:
"Sensenbrenner (who sponsored this wonderful *awful* idea) "appears to recognize that the national interest transmission corridor designation process is broken," Hoecker said."
"There is latitude on the part of the agencies but this would be a departure from the broad geographic approach implemented under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and therefore would likely draw congressional attention," Plaushin said."
Awww... cut the false modesty. It's going to draw lots more attention than just that of Congress...