DOE Announces $1.3B for Three New Transmission Lines 

This week, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released their National Transmission Needs Study. This study examined what the DOE sees as need in the future for electric transmission, and DOE intends to use the study to determine their authority and funding regarding interstate transmission lines, including National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (massive transmission lines cross numerous states). They have found in this study that the “Plains” region (which includes Nebraska) has both a current and future need for increased energy transmission infrastructure.

The DOE had announced their plans on this action at the beginning 2023. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released a proposed rule in January 2023 regarding these interstate transmission activities. Their ideas on implementation were a cause of concern for many. The DOE proposed a federal permitting system that would use the approval power of Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) and Independent System Operators (ISOs) if they did not approve a project quickly enough. It also ignited questions about the potential use of eminent domain authority for the projects DOE was involved in.

The latest study sets the stage for implementation of federal financing tools from the Loan Programs Office for building out transmission lines, funded mostly through money from the Inflation Reduction Act.

As the first step after this announcement, the DOE announced that up to $1.3 billion was going to be spent on three interstate transmission lines: two of them being in the Southwest United States and one being in the Northeast United States. These were the first-round selections of projects from the DOE, and mark the first action they have taken toward the plans for major expansion of interstate electrical transmission, with intentions to eventually carry Midwest generated power to coastal areas. There has been no final rule issued from FERC yet, meaning we have yet to see any national corridors go in, and there will be no federal permitting process to bypass state control on these first projects.

Nebraska Farm Bureau will continue to monitor the movements of the DOE on this issue, and advocate for the needs of farmers and ranchers in Nebraska.

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