The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing on Friday to discuss the future of the transmission grid. As noted in this blog before, obtaining federal permits can sometimes be as time-consuming as coordinating between states. Rich Halvey from the Western Governors Association noted that the federal permitting process can take 5 to 10 years. Chairman Markey barely covered his incredulity, noting that sometimes it is not the states, but “The federal government [that] serves as an impediment.”
In a promising sign for grid operators and NEMA members, representatives from both parties seemed to agree on the need for more transmission lines. Several committee members voiced a desire for FERC to appeal the 4th Circuit decision to sharply limit the Commission’s backstop transmission siting authority.
Finally, FERC Chairman Wellinghoff clarified earlier remarks that no new coal or nuclear would be needed. Wellinghoff noted that a smart grid integration of load with renewables could effectively displace baseload, and estimated an implementation timeframe of 10 to 15 years.