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New law would put federal government in driver’s seat for transmission permitting.

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 725 items added with 353,784 views
  • Feb 11, 2022
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A new law that was passed as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would essentially guarantee that transmission projects get moving, regardless of community consent. 

The Power On Act, introduced by Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego would let the federal government intervene on transmission projects if local authorities are not moving the projects through quickly enough. 

Obviously there has been a lot of movement around transmission siting and permitting, two of the largest and most tedious obstacles in getting transmission projects off the ground. The interesting piece of this legislation is that it gives states a cap on how much time they can take with transmission permitting before the federal government steps in. 

“We created a permitting process that’s a little more streamlined,” Peters said in the San Diego Union-Tribune. “We said we’ll give you a year but if you can’t agree within a year, the federal government will come in and issue the permit.” 

This is one of two things: the federal government overreaching with lofty ambitions to put their hands on local transmission projects, or this is the federal government prioritizing transmission projects like it never has before—it’s the federal government acknowledging the critical role transmission plays in envolving the country’s energy system into a sustainable, carbon-free system into the future.

It’s unclear when the clock begins on this “year” deadline but siting may still be an issue. Permitting might now be streamlined but other aspects between initial idea and shovel in the ground need more efficiency before we see new transmission infrastructure really begin to noticeably proliferate. 

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