(ROSSLYN, Va.)—The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) today expressed its support for a new multi-agency effort to increase cooperation among federal agencies and accelerate federal approvals as they consider proposed electrical transmission projects that impact federal lands.
On a conference call this morning, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Council on Environmental Quality Chair Nancy Sutley, and Department of Energy Senior Advisor Lauren Azar announced the creation of a Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT) and an initial set of seven transmission projects that will benefit from increased federal coordination.
“NEMA has been pressing the federal government to give greater urgency to transmission projects that will modernize the grid, diversify our energy portfolio, and create manufacturing jobs,” said NEMA President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis. “Today’s announcement is an excellent first step, and NEMA will continue to advocate for a streamlined and expedited federal review process for all transmission lines, whether or not they cross federal lands.”
It is commonplace for an essential transmission project to take more than a decade to be built as it goes through federal requirements pertaining to planning, cost allocation, environmental impact, and siting. More obstacles remain at the state and local levels even after the federal government signs off. As a result of the numerous regulations, approvals, and jurisdictions involved, a large number of projects never even get built. NEMA highlights this lengthy and costly process in its Siting Transmission Corridors—A Real Life Game of Chutes and Ladders, which may be downloaded at www.nema.org/TransmissionCorridorsGameboard.
RRTT will identify from among nine federal agencies that signed an October 2009 Memorandum of Understanding on transmission coordination those that are affected by a given project, establish a lead agency to direct coordination, outline a timeline for federal actions, provide dedicated staff in each agency for each project, and keep the public apprised of progress through a new website on a project-by-project basis.
“Transmission is the key that will unlock economic growth, energy security, and American competitiveness. This initiative is part of the solution,” said Gaddis.
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment 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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