Building new transmission infrastructure in the U.S. is becoming increasingly necessary; not only to integrate renewable energy generation resources into the grid, but also to accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles on America’s roads, avoid blackouts, and reduce the need to build new power plants. However, the process required to permit, review and seek public comment on building electric transmission lines is long and arduous, requiring coordination among multiple federal, state, and tribal agencies.
In order to bring the nation’s electric system into the 21st century, the Obama administration has announced that it will accelerate the permitting and construction of seven proposed electric transmission lines. The move is intended to create thousands of jobs, while building an electric grid that is safer and more secure, and gives consumers more energy choices. These seven projects will serve as pilot demonstrations for a streamlined federal permitting process, and increased cooperation at the federal, state, and tribal levels.
In order to accomplish this, the Administration has recently formed an inter-agency Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT), comprised of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Electric Regulatory Commission (FERC), and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The agencies will work together to coordinate permitting, review, and consultation schedules and processes, apply a uniform and consistent approach to consultations with Tribal governments, and ensure that all agencies are fully engaged and meeting schedules.