Powering Strong Communities

Department Of Energy Seeks Input on National Transmission Corridor Effort

The Department of Energy has issued notices aimed at moving forward its efforts to expand the nation’s electric grid in anticipation of growing electrification and rising levels of renewable generation sources.

Specifically, the Department of Energy’s Grid Deployment Office issued a Notice of Intent and a Request for Information to inform the designation of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors.

In the Notice of Intent, the Department of Energy said it is providing further information on its anticipated approach to designating National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors.

In the Request for Information, the Department of Energy is seeking stakeholder feedback to improve the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation process to more accurately pinpoint areas experiencing the greatest transmission need and with the greatest potential for immediate transmission deployment.

The Department of Energy defines National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors as geographic areas where electricity limitations, congestion, or capacity constraints are adversely affecting electricity consumers and communities.

Under the Federal Power Act, the Secretary of Energy may designate any geographic area, such as a route, as a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor if they find that current or anticipated future electric energy transmission capacity constraints or congestion are adversely affecting consumers. Designated routes can range in length up to several hundred miles.

Designation as a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor can provide access to federal financing tools, specifically public-private partnerships through the $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the $2 billion Transmission Facility Financing Loan Program under the Inflation Reduction Act.

Designation as a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor also allows the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to grant permits for the siting of transmission lines under circumstances where state siting authorities do not have authority to site the line, have not acted on an application to site the line for over one year, or have denied an application.

National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors are designated, in part, on findings from the triennial assessment of national transmission constraints and congestion that the Department of Energy conducts pursuant to the Federal Power Act.

In the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021, Congress expanded the scope of that assessment, now called the National Transmission Needs Study, to include both historic and anticipated future capacity constraints and transmission congestion. The expansion allows the study to more accurately identify high-priority national transmission needs, including the alleviation of power transfer capacity limits between neighboring regions.

The 2023 needs study is in review, but the draft study found there is a “pressing need” for additional electric transmission infrastructure in nearly all regions in the United States, but the DOE said regions with high electricity costs – notably the Plains, the Midwest, the Mid-Atlantic, New York, and California – would particularly benefit from an expansion of the transmission system.

The draft also found that increased interregional transmission could provide the largest benefit, particularly between the Mountain and Plains regions and between Texas and all its neighbors.

Responses to the Notice of Intent and Request for Information will be due 45 days after they are published in the Federal Register. The Department of Energy plans to issue the results of the National Transmission Needs Study this summer and the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors application guidance in this autumn.