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DOE Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Aimed at High-Voltage Electric Transmission Line Expansion

On August 10, 2023, the Department of Energy (DOE), through its Grid Deployment Office, issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) and request for comment aimed at expanding the permitting process for high-voltage electric transmission lines (i.e., lines rated 230 kilovolts and above). The NOPR seeks to provide an efficient and well-coordinated process to expedite approval of high-voltage transmission infrastructure projects. The proposed rule would establish DOE as the lead agency for National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews, in collaboration with any NEPA co-lead agency and would require DOE to issue a final decision on all federal authorizations and complete all environmental reviews within two years of a project being proposed.

The NOPR proposes to establish the Coordinated Interagency Transmission Authorizations and Permits Program (CITAP Program) to review high-voltage transmission project applications. As a pre-condition for a decision under the CITAP Program, project proponents must apply through the Integrated Interagency Preapplication (IIP) Process. The IIP Process is initiated through a request by the project proponent to DOE that includes a summary of the qualifying project with relevant maps and studies and a project participation plan describing the project proponent’s outreach to communities of interest.

Following a series of meetings between DOE and the project proponent and completion of collaborative analyses, the proposed rule would require DOE to prepare a single Environmental Impact Statement to serve the needs of all federal agencies and departments with jurisdiction to site a qualifying project.

Comments on the NOPR are due 45 days after its publication in the Federal Register.