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This is a great read about how legislation is created at the state level through bill mills.  I highly encourage reading this blog on the Council of State Governments.  Their idea of Transmission Siting Interstate Compacts is quite disturber.  Like Keryn Newman says, this seems to be an automatic approval process with the only possible outcome being approval and the (NIMBY) public has no voice in this situation. 

http://www.stoppathwv.com/stoppath-wv-blog.html    Transmission Siting Interstate Compact Neutralizes State Authority

http://calhounpowerline.com/2013/01/14/a-little-more-on-multi-state-transmission-compacts/     The Power Line

Please, go there and read this.  It’s far better than anything I’ve written bellow.

Aside from industry lobbying, it looks to me states fear FERC trumping them with Federal Siting Authority, so they set up  Mini-FERC's with interstate transmission siting compacts to automatically approve projects before the feds can override state’s vetoes.   It is understandable transmission company’s feel their multistate projects do not receive the recognition they feel the projects deserve (arrogance and a contempt for the “nimby” public, but I would argue the current system is better with slight modifications.   Yes, there is clearly a bias from FERC that needs to be recognized for wanting more transmission for any reason.  Because of FERC’s prejudice towards more transmission projects of any kind regardless of reason, large multistate projects deserve more scrutiny from the states, not less.  

The idea of less oversight for large multistate projects scares the hell out of me.  The current system offers better checks and balances with projects requiring seeking approval in multiple states.  More hoops should be jumped through for larger projects and not less for larger projects.  Project approval should face a process of checks and balances and not a one stop automatic approval.   If a project runs from Iowa, through Illinois and into Indiana, the project’s owners should jump through three hurdles and not one joint hurdle.  

The other state commissions should be intervening in each other's states to provide better checks and balance.  In this example, the Iowa commission's voice should be heard in Indiana.  Iowa is a stakeholder in this, and their opinion should matter in the other states.   If Combined Multistate Transmission Siting is approved, future projects are going to be bigger rather than smaller for the sake of easier approval.  Two state projects will be avoided.

In the end, there is no emphasis on economically priced energy with Combined Multistate Transmission Siting.  More transmission is encouraged rather than more localized generation.  Potential Projects compare themselves to alternate routes or altenate projects.  Local generation through local sources is not considered.  If there is truly a "need" shouldn't it come from generation and long term jobs rather than transmission and short term construction jobs?   It would be smarter for states to seek energy independence policies that encourage economical local generation rather than multistate transmission projects. 

The Council of State Governments website recommended this  ISO New England Report.  It’s interesting the New England states ask for a report from the ISO about New England’s capabilities to create renewable energy and the RTO provides an Appendix E which says building powerlines to the Midwest will provide a lower priced energy from coal power.    When “transmission” is indeed an RTO’s middle name, the solution for everything is more transmission.   Ask for a report about the potential for local renewables and receive a report saying building more powerlines to the Midwest is the answer.  Do Regional Transmission Organizations have only one tool in their toolbox?  More powerlines. 

The only tool in the RTO’s toolbox is a hammer and every problem is a nail.   The solution to everything is building more powerlines for energy that is far away.  What is even more absurd from this report’s expert view of natural gas energy being expensive while Midwest coal energy and increased transmission is considered economical. 

Do RTO’s ever consider the opportunities within the region or only look at opportunities elsewhere for an excuse to create more transmission?

 

No, state commissions  have not lost there relevance.

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