Feds Seek More Control Over Grid Transmission Lines

New legislation is expected to seek greater federal control over the siting of electrical transmission lines, a move lawmakers hope will ease the creation of a "smart" electricity grid.

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) today signaled that energy policy will be a major focus for Congress in the next months, announcing plans to introduce a bill later this week that would give the federal government greater authority in siting electrical transmission lines around the country."

"Modernizing and expanding the transmission system is essential to expanding renewable energy generation and reaching the renewable portfolio goals outlined by President Obama and many congressional leaders. But any expansion means building new transmission lines, a move sure to reignite debate about how much authority the federal government should have when it comes approving new lines. Previous attempts to expand the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have been unsuccessful due to concerns on the part of state regulators about eminent domain -- essentially, the government's power to seize land."

"A 2005 law granting FERC some greater authority to intervene in transmission line disputes hasn't been used successfully to date, and just last week a federal appeals court ruled against the agency after they attempted to intervene and move forward on a 190-mile high-voltage power line in upstate New York."

"The economic recovery package that President Obama signed last week set aside $11 billion dollars for transmission upgrades, evidence of increased interest building a national, smart grid."

Full Story: What the FERC

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