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US announces grid modernisation pilot projects

The Obama Administration is accelerating the permitting and construction of 7 proposed electric transmission lines in a move to modernise the US grids.

By Kari Williamson

Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, says: “Building a smarter electric grid will create thousands of American jobs and accelerate the growth of domestic clean energy industries translating into more energy choices and cost savings for American consumers, and a more secure energy future for our country.”

The grid modernisation projects will serve as pilot demonstrations of streamlined Federal permitting and increased cooperation at the Federal, state, and tribal levels, the Administration says.

Furthermore, adding necessary transmission infrastructure could help integrate renewable electricity sources into the grid, accommodate the growing number of electric vehicles, help avoid blackouts, restore power more quickly when outages occur, and reduce the need for new power plants.

The Administration has formed Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT) to accelerate the deployment of the 7 key transmission facilities. RRTT consists 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.

RRTT will:

  • Coordinate statutory permitting, review, and consultation schedules and processes among involved Federal and state agencies as appropriate through Integrated Federal Planning,
  • Apply a uniform and consistent approach to consultations with Tribal governments, and,
  • Resolve interagency conflicts and ensuring that all involved agencies are fully engaged and meeting schedules.

The 7 projects are:

  1. Boardman-Hemingway Line powering Oregon and Idaho (500 kV, 300 miles long);
  2. Gateway West Project to bring new transmission across Wyoming and Idaho (1150 miles of new HV lines);
  3. Hampton-Rochester-La Crosse Line to power to Minnesota and Wisconsin (345 kV line plus two 161 kV lines);
  4. Oregon to get additional transmission from Cascade Crossing Line (500 kV, 210 miles);
  5. SunZia Transmission LLC to bring power to New Mexico and Arizona (500 kV);
  6. Susquehanna to Roseland Line brings new transmission to Pennsylvania and New Jersey (145 miles of 500 kV lines, and several 500-230 kV substations); and
  7. Transwest Express to stand-up transmission from Wyoming to Utah and Nevada (600 kV, 700 miles).

Welcomed by AWEA

The American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) Senior Director of Federal Regulatory Affairs, Tom Winson, applauds the Obama Administration, saying: “An expanded transmission grid is critical not just for renewable energy, but also for our economic and national security by improving reliability and providing access to lower cost energy for consumers.

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