U.S. Department Of Energy Releases Preliminary List Of Potential National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors

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On May 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") released a preliminary list of potential National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors ("NIETCs"), representing another step...
Worldwide Energy and Natural Resources
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On May 8, 2024, the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") released a preliminary list of potential National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors ("NIETCs"), representing another step forward in DOE's efforts to effectuate statutory powers designed to accelerate the development of electric transmission infrastructure across the country. A decision by DOE to designate a NIETC would empower the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ("FERC") to site and permit projects (including by exercising federal powers of eminent domain) within the NIETC, in addition to enabling developers of projects within the NIETC to qualify for federal Transmission Facilitation Program ("TFP") and Transmission Facility Financing ("TFF") funding programs administered by DOE. (Read our prior posts on DOE's development of the NIETC designation here and here.)

The list proposes designating ten transmission-constrained corridors across the country as NIETCs. The corridors range in length from just twelve to several hundred miles long, and three of them are located in the Northeast:

  • The New York – New England potential NIETC, which runs roughly sixty miles east-west between Albany, New York and Northfield, Massachusetts, and would increase transfer capacity between the New York Independent System Operator ("NYISO") and ISO New England ("ISO-NE");
  • The New York – Mid-Atlantic potential NIETC, which stretches north and west from south Brooklyn, New York to New Jersey's Hudson and Bergen Counties and includes Lower Manhattan (roughly below Canal Street) and Manhattan's West Wide (roughly west of 9th Avenue), and would increase transfer capacity between NYISO and PJM Interconnection ("PJM"); and
  • The Mid-Atlantic – Canada potential NIETC, which departs Pennsylvania's Lake Erie shoreline west of Erie and runs northeast to the international border with Canada, and would increase transfer capacity between PJM and Ontario's Independent Electricity System Operator ("IESO").

While the three potential NIETCs located in the Northeast are among the smallest, geographically speaking, of the ten proposed by DOE, they would address some of the infrastructure upgrade needs identified as most urgent in DOE's 2023 National Transmission Needs Study. A New York – New England NIETC, for instance, would bridge the brittle NYISO-ISO-NE seam, where inadequate transfer capacity regularly gives rise to the highest differences in wholesale market prices in the Eastern Interconnection and threatens the ability of both regions to maintain reliability while integrating new renewable generation capacity. Similarly, a New York – Mid-Atlantic NIETC would facilitate the development of much-needed import capacity into Long Island and New York City, where the NYISO has identified significant near-term reliability needs.

DOE's preliminary NIETC designations give definition and clarity as to how the Biden Administration will use its authority to site transmission infrastructure, but nothing is set in stone just yet. Public comments on the preliminary list are due at 5 p.m. ET on June 24, 2024; following the comment period, DOE will undertake additional public engagement and prepare a draft report before releasing the "final preliminary designations."

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