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FERC and DOE work together to review power transmission projects

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Wednesday, October 12, 2011

On October 11, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will work more closely when electricity transmission projects are submitted for review.

The decision was based on section 216 of the Federal Power Act, allowing the DOE to delegate less authority to FERC. The arrangement will see the DOE and FERC work together to develop drafts of transmission congestion studies as established by Congress. Supplements to the studies will be based on transmission plans prepared pursuant to Orders 890 and 1,000, environmental analyses conducted on any proposed National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors and other factors.

"This nation promptly needs to build the electric grid of the 21st century to compete in the global economy," Chu said. "Enhanced cooperation between DOE and FERC is the best way to help achieve this goal. I look forward to working with Chairman Wellinghoff as we take steps to ease congestion and increase reliability while modernizing the grid."

The DOE believes that the collaboration with FERC is only one of many programs that it can use to execute its powers better, faster, with more transparency and more efficiently. In the future, the DOE expects to perform a new set of operations regarding further development of the smart grid.

The department says it will immediately begin to identify the most congested areas of the grid based on the analysis of available information and comments stakeholders submit. Previous studies have been used to determine the broad areas of congestion, but new investigations will be deployed to identify narrower areas where congestion is seen. Also, the DOE will solicit statements of interest from industry professionals as it considers what National Corridors to designate.

Comments about the delegation have already been submitted to the department, showing overwhelming support for the decision.

"Effective implementation of federal backstop siting authority will facilitate construction of the transmission necessary to maintain and grow out national economy," Michael G. Morris, CEO of American Electric Power, wrote to Secretary Chu. "Through this routine delegation, the separate authorities granted to DOE and FERC are combined to improve the efficiency of the federal process."

Several other groups and utilities have expressed their approval of the delegation, including the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, Duke Energy Corporation, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, Detroit Edison Company and many others.

SUBNET provides solutions for such companies to efficiently integrate into the smart grid, specializing in substation automation and remote access.  

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