U.S. Department of Energy Seeks Comments on Transmission Line Congestion

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking comments, and inviting the public to attend four regional pre-study workshops, for the purpose of providing input to DOE’s upcoming study of electric transmission congestion. The study will address congestion issues throughout the U.S., except for the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (2005 EPAct) mandates that a congestion study be conducted by DOE every three years. On the basis of a congestion study, DOE may designate any area of congestion that adversely affects consumers as a national interest electric transmission corridor (National Interest Corridor). Once such corridors are designated, the federal government becomes authorized to issue siting permits for new transmission projects therein if certain triggering events occur.

Transmission line congestion can have adverse economic and/or reliability consequences for electric customers, because it can prevent generated electricity from reaching load centers. Congress addressed the concern about the ability of the transmission system to handle increasing electric demands in the 2005 EPAct. That major piece of legislation contained a number of provisions dealing with transmission issues, one of which required DOE to conduct triennial transmission congestion studies.

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