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Obama orders agencies to take steps to expand, modernize grid


From the June 12, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published June 12, 2013

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director

President Barack Obama directed federal agencies to take specific steps to improve siting of new transmission, with a "focus on facilitating renewable energy resources and improving grid resiliency." In a June 7 memo, the president said that, "to ensure the growth of America's clean energy economy and improve energy security, we must modernize and expand our electric transmission grid." The memo builds upon the work of the administration’s existing Rapid Response Transmission Team, an interagency initiative to improve the federal siting, permitting, and review processes for transmission projects, the president said.

"Modernizing our grid will improve energy reliability and resiliency, allowing us to minimize power outages and manage cybersecurity threats," Obama said. "By diversifying power sources and reducing congestion, a modernized grid will also create cost savings for consumers and spur economic growth."

Most of the directives in the memo deal with the designation of "energy right-of-way corridors" on federal land pursuant to Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The memo instructs the secretaries of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy and Interior to "focus on facilitating renewable energy resources and improving grid resiliency" by ensuring that energy corridors address the "need for upgraded and new electric transmission and distribution facilities." Obama directed the Department of Energy to draft a report to recommend how to best achieve these requirements. The first part of this report (for Western states) is due by Dec. 1. The second part of the report (for the other states) is due by April 1, 2014.

The memo calls for the secretaries to provide two other studies, one by July 12, 2014, assessing the utility of the existing designated energy corridors in Western states, and the other by Sept. 1, 2014, with "updated recommendations regarding designating energy corridors in [the non-Western] states."

The memo is posted on the White House website.

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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella
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