The National Electrical
Manufacturers Association (NEMA) welcomed recent developments and discussion
surrounding electrical transmission siting and the need to look at new
approaches for a robust and secure 21st century transmission
“For the past several years
NEMA has championed policies aimed at consolidating and streamlining
transmission environmental reviews and addressing a greater federal role in
siting multistate transmission lines,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan R.
Gaddis. “We are encouraged by recent
statements and reports that offer the prospects for new thinking and approaches
to transmission siting, and as the industry that supplies the technologies that
make electrical transmission possible, we applaud these developments.”
Calling for new construction
of electric infrastructure and expansion and maintenance of existing
infrastructure, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy
and Natural Resources Committee, advocates in her Energy 20/20 discussion blueprint for authorizing the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) "as the lead federal coordinator for
electric transmission...infrastructure to help maintain reliability, alleviate
congestion and enable stranded resources to supply demand."
Senator Murkowski also
suggests that "Congress should allow FERC to establish binding deadlines
on other federal agencies and to require a single environmental review
This language mirrors a
central message of NEMA's Chutes
and Ladders: Siting Transmission Corridors.
As greater demands are
placed on the grid and with energy efficiency and security growing concerns,
major new investments in the grid are needed to make it more reliable, more
efficient, and smarter.
One impediment to such
improvement is the arduous process of siting interstate transmission lines. A
complex web of local, state, and federal regulations make it difficult to gain
approval for a transmission line, even one that is absolutely essential to grid
reliability or to the development of renewable energy. In fact, most proposed
lines are never built.
Thought leaders continue to
discuss the other pillar of NEMA transmission policy—establishing federal
backstop siting authority—and think tanks like the Bipartisan Policy Center’s
February 2013 report Policies for a
Modern and Reliable U.S. Electric Grid have endorsed it. The report contains recommendations in four
broad policy areas:
- encouraging efficient transmission and
- advancing planning and operational
coordination across jurisdictions
- enabling a more flexible and resilient system
- monitoring and enhancing operational
Establishing even limited federal backstop authority
remains controversial, but NEMA urges a full and frank discussion of
transmission siting policy because the status quo is not up to the challenge of
creating the robust and efficient grid we need today and in the future.
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, founded in 1926 and headquartered in Arlington, Virginia. Its member companies manufacture a diverse set of products including power transmission and distribution equipment, lighting systems, factory automation and control systems, and medical diagnostic imaging systems. Worldwide annual sales of NEMA-scope products exceed $120 billion.
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