By: Rich Lindsey
Of all the policy discussions that occur in the West over energy issues, one issue rises to the top when it comes to agreement among states: the need for a more efficient way to site electrical transmission lines across state lines, particularly when it involves bringing renewables to the market. In 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act in which Congress granted consent for three or more contiguous states to explore and develop regional transmission line siting compacts.
A request from legislative members of the Council of State Governments to the Council's National Center for Interstate Compacts to explore the feasibility of a transmission line compact led to the creation of an advisory board to study the idea. The advisory board consisted of federal stakeholders from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the US Department of Energy, state officials, stakeholder groups, and subject matter experts.
Following the advisory board's determination that the compact idea deserved merit, a drafting team was formed and met multiple times over the past year to finalize compact language. The now completed draft provides a framework for a national transmission line siting compact designed to improve efficiencies by standardizing timelines across member states.
The agreement would be triggered on a regional basis and pertain only to those states that are both members of the compact and affected by the proposed line. Specifically, the compact addresses an application filing process, an application review process, a proposed line review and timeline, and an approval process.
The CSG-WEST Energy and Public Lands Committee is dedicating its entire three hour meeting at this year's Council of State Governments - WEST annual meeting in Las Vegas, NV to the compact draft language. The draft has also been presented to the Western Governors Association's Transmission Siting Task Force and is being circulated more broadly for review and comment.
A transmission siting compact could play a significant role in expediting electrical transmission siting across western states. For more information on the draft language contact Crady DeGolian, Director of CSG's National Center for Interstate Compacts at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 859-244-8068.