Wednesday, August 09, 2006

DOE Releases National Electric Transmission Congestion Study

Aug 8: On the first anniversary of Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman announced that the Department has published the National Electric Transmission Congestion Study. The report identifies three groups of congestion areas that merit further federal attention. The most severely congested areas are called “Critical Congestion Areas.” These areas are Southern California, and the Atlantic coastal area from the New York City area to northern Virginia. A second group, “Congestion Areas of Concern,” consists of four areas that appear to require close observation and further study to determine the magnitude of their existing or emerging congestion problems. These are: New England, the Phoenix-Tucson area, the Seattle-Portland area, and the San Francisco Bay area. The third group, “Conditional Congestion Areas,” consists of areas where congestion is not acute at present, but it would become so if large amounts of new electric generation were to be built without associated transmission capacity including Montana-Wyoming, the Dakotas-Minnesota, Kansas-Oklahoma, Illinois, Indiana, Upper Appalachia and the Southeast.

With the release of the study, DOE will now be seeking comments until October 10, from interested parties on the possible designation of National Interest Electric Transmission corridors in relation to all three groups of congestion areas. If appropriate, the DOE Secretary will designate certain areas as National Corridors in accordance with the law. The study, and comments on it from stakeholders, will be used in future decisions by the Department concerning the designation of National Corridors. Section 1221(a) of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 updates Section 216 of the Federal Power Act and requires DOE to issue a national transmission congestion study for comment by August 2006 and every three years thereafter. Based on the study and public comments, DOE may designate selected geographic areas as "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors." Applicants for projects proposed within designated corridors that are not acted upon by state siting authorities within one year may request FERC to exercise federal "backstop" siting authority.

Bodman also released a report prepared by the Department that details other programs that have been undertaken since the passage of EPAct. The report, On the Road to Energy Security: Implementing a Comprehensive Energy Strategy, is designed to be an easy-to-read document that explains many of the highlights of EPAct, and provides a progress summary on achieving the Act’s goals of greater energy security. Additionally, Bodman provide an overview briefing on issues surrounding the Prudhoe Bay, Alaska oil field shutdown.

Access a lengthy release (
click here). Access links to the complete Congestion study, an executive summary, comment procedures, and extensive background information (click here). Access the EPAct accomplishments summary (click here). [*Energy]