Building a new grid without new legislation: A path to revitalizing federal transmission authorities

COLUMBIA CENTER ON GLOBAL ENERGY POLICY | Decarbonizing the US economy at a reasonable cost will necessitate the construction of new, long-distance transmission lines. However, state-level regulatory requirements for the selection of transmission line routes and for the assembly of environmental, land use, public utility, and other permits and property rights have proved to be a barrier to broader power transmission. Retaining the current process for siting these transmission lines may stymie the development of renewable resources in critical locations across the United States where sunshine and wind are plentiful.

Ideally, Congress would take action to overcome the regulatory and commercial barriers that have frustrated long-distance transmission development, with legislative solutions rooted in cooperative federalism. However, such action is not guaranteed and may not be realistically expected to occur in a timeframe an administration determines is necessary to address the crisis presented by climate change.

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