The Chairman of the Western Governors' Association (WGA), Governor Gary Herbert of Utah, recently announced the publication of its 10 Year Energy Vision. The aspirational document outlines several broad goals and objectives "on which the governors all agree: achieving energy security; generating clean, affordable and reliable energy from a diversified portfolio of energy sources; increasing energy efficiency; having sufficient and reliable infrastructure; protecting wildlife, the environment and natural resources, and making the West the leader in energy education and innovation."

The general consensus is that federal and state regulators should not be designing national energy policies absent direction from Congress and state legislatures. Public opinion generally supports lower emission levels for generation units, increased support for energy conservation/efficiency, and no increase in electric rates. The apparent renaissance of natural gas production and nuclear generation--and the absence of a cost-effective clean coal technology--presage at least a short-term continuation of transitioning away from coal-fired generation.

The Council of State Governments’ National Center for Interstate Compacts is working with several stakeholder groups on issues ranging from electric transmission lines, distance learning, and licensing of EMS and other medical services personnel. Find out more about compacts relating to these issues, all of which are in various stages of development.

A decision last week by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold a cost allocation plan backed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for siting electric transmission lines, which would bring wind from the Midwest into the Great Lakes region, may have major implications for state renewable power mandates that have provisions giving preferential treatment to renewable energy sourced within its borders. In the decision, the federal appeals court ruled against utilities and officials form Illinois and it declared Michigan's state renewable portfolio standard was unconstitutional because it discriminated against out of state renewable energy sources when meeting the mandate.

The siting of interstate electricity transmission lines has long been a problem for both states and the federal government. With the expected growth in electricity demand—combined with the need to bring renewable energy to market and the necessity to enhance and secure the nation’s energy infrastructure—the need for added transmission capacity in the United States has never been more critical. Attendees learned more about a member-driven initiative aimed at improving the siting process through common applications, pre-determined timelines and coordinated publichearings during this session. This new compact will be ready for legislative introduction beginning in 2013. Subject matter experts discussed the need for the compact, the development process and specific areas covered by the new interstate agreement.

One solution to the growing challenge of siting interstate transmission lines may be the formation of an interstate compact governing transmission line siting.   The Energy Policy Act of 2005 granted states advance congressional consent to create regional interstate compacts and CSG, through the National Center for Interstate Compacts, and with the assistance of a drafting team comprised of subject matter experts has developed model language for state consideration.  

The National Center for Interstate Compacts will unveil language for a compact intended to ease efforts among states to site interstate electricity transmission lines during a 2:30-4 p.m. session Dec. 2 at The Council of State Governments’ 2012 National Conference in Austin, Texas.

Siting electric transmission lines across state borders has long been a challenge for the states, the federal government and utility transmission companies. Too often, the diverse interests of various stakeholders, combined with the absence of a mechanism capable of bringing different entities together, makes siting interstate electric transmission lines a difficult proposition.  The compact option model provides a compromise that allows state policymakers and federal officials to work collaboratively to site lines in a timeframe that would be beneficial to all parties. If implemented, a compact can provide states a durable tool that allows collaboration across state lines and partnerships with federal agencies to ensure stakeholders’ interests are met. 

As demand for energy continues to grow—especially electricity generated from renewable sources—so, too, does the need to efficiently move energy across state lines and boost the ability to move resources across international borders. But state, national and international interests often do not align. This lack of a cohesive plan is leading to underdeveloped markets and an overstressed transmission system. This session explored effective tools used in Canada and Mexico, as well as potential domestic policy solutions, all designed to more efficiently move power from where it is generated to where it is needed.

As demand for energy continues to grow—especially electricity generated from renewable sources—so, too, does the need to efficiently move energy across state lines and boost the ability to move resources across international borders. But state, national and international interests often do not align. This lack of a cohesive plan is leading to underdeveloped markets and an overstressed transmission system. This session explored effective tools used in Canada and Mexico, as well as potential domestic policy solutions, all designed to more efficiently move power from where it is generated to where it is needed.

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