Virginia wants left out of federal electricity transmission corridor

By John O'Brien | Jul 9, 2007


RICHMOND, Va. - Reiterating his point that states are more equipped to deal with the plotting of power lines than the federal government is, Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell recently wrote the Department of Energy.

In the letter, in which he joined Gov. Tim Kaine, McDonnell says Virginia should not be included in the proposed National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor.

In April, McDonnell said the feds are overlooking state input in the plotting of power lines. Friday, he wrote Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.

"The federal law creating federal backstop authority for transmission siting in designated corridors... ignores these legitimate state interests entirely and would permit decisions based solely on the energy needs of a region," the letter states.

"The potential local impacts of siting decisions should discourage the establishment of federal authority in any but the most extreme circumstances. Though we acknowledge the need to ensure sufficient electric transmission infrastructure in the Mid-Atlantic, the unique qualities of this region of the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth's own established and well-managed practices and process for siting transmission have not been given sufficient consideration and weight in the development of this draft."

The Department of Energy issued two draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designations. The proposed Mid-Atlantic Area National Corridor includes counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Virginia, and all of New Jersey, Delaware and the District of Columbia. The proposed Southwest Area National Corridor includes counties in California, Arizona, and Nevada.

Bodman said the plans are crucial to the future of energy in the country.

"These draft designations set us on the path to modernize our constrained and congested electric power infrastructure. They are a crucial step toward realizing President Bush's goal of a modern, more efficient electric power delivery system," Bodman said.

Kaine and McDonnell feel Virginia's energy policies are not consistent with the NIETC.

"Virginia should not be included in DOE's designation of National Transmission Corridors. As a policy matter, Virginia has long understood the importance of ensuring reliable electric service at a reasonable cost," the letter says. "The Commonwealth has in place law, policy and practices to effectively address the state's energy needs. Virginia's laws, policies, and practices do not conflict with, but inure to the benefit of, the energy needs of the citizens of the Mid-Atlantic region."

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