Biden-Harris Administration Announces Final Transmission Permitting Rule & Latest Investments to Accelerate the Buildout of a Resilient, Reliable, Modernized Electric Grid

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DOE Announces New Federal Permitting Rule To Slash Transmission Review Timelines in Half While Maintaining Integrity of the Environmental Review Process, New $331 Million Investment to Add More Than 2,000 Megawatts Across the Western U.S. Grid

WASHINGTON, D.C.— In a continued commitment to bolster the U.S. power grid, today the Biden-Harris Administration announced a final transmission permitting reform rule and a new commitment for up to $331 million aimed at adding more than 2,000 megawatts (MW) of additional grid capacity throughout the Western United States — the equivalent to powering 2.5 million homes and creating more than 300 new, high quality and union construction jobs. By improving Federal transmission permitting processes and investing in transmission build out and grid upgrades, the Biden-Harris Administration is deploying a multifaceted approach to ensuring that Americans have clean, reliable, and affordable power when and where they need it. These efforts advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic climate agenda, strengthen energy security and grid resilience, and reduce energy costs by bringing low-cost clean electricity to more families and businesses.

The Department of Energy (DOE) is issuing a final rule to establish the Coordinated Interagency Transmission Authorizations and Permits (CITAP) Program, which aims to significantly improve Federal environmental reviews and permitting processes for qualifying transmission projects. Under the CITAP Program, DOE will coordinate a Federal integrated interagency process to consolidate Federal environmental reviews and authorizations within a standard two-year schedule while ensuring meaningful engagement with Tribes, local communities, and other stakeholders. This final rule, initiated and completed in under a year, implements a May 2023 interagency Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to expedite the siting, permitting, and construction of electric transmission infrastructure in the United States. This rule is the latest action the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to accelerate permitting and environmental reviews.

 DOE is also announcing up to $331 million through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to support a new transmission line from Idaho to Nevada that will be built with union labor—the latest investment from the $30 billion that the Administration is deploying from the President’s Investing in America agenda to strengthen electric grid infrastructure.

“In order to reach our clean energy and climate goals, we’ve got to build out transmission as fast as possible to get clean power from where it’s produced to where it’s needed,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy. “As today’s announcements demonstrate, the Biden-Harris administration is committed to using every tool at our disposal to accelerate progress on transmission permitting and financing and build a clean energy future.”

“As the Federal government’s largest land manager, the Department of the Interior is working to review, approve and connect clean energy projects on hundreds of miles across the American West,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. “As we continue to surpass our clean energy goals, we are committed to working with our interagency partners to improve permitting efficiency for transmission projects, and ensuring that states, Tribes, local leaders and communities have a seat at the table as we consider proposals.”

Expanding electric transmission capacity in the United States is essential to meet growing demand for electricity, ensure reliable and resilient electric service, and deliver new low-cost clean energy to customers when and where they need it. But over the past decade, transmission lines in the United States have been built at half the rate of the previous three decades, often due to permitting and financing challenges. The Biden-Harris Administration is tackling those challenges head-on, with today’s new CITAP Program and transmission investment announcement as the latest steps in broad efforts to take on climate change, lower energy costs, and strengthen energy security and grid reliability.

Federal Permitting Reform

Today DOE released a final rule that will significantly improve Federal environmental reviews and permitting processes for qualifying onshore electric transmission facilities, while ensuring meaningful engagement with Tribes, states, local communities, and other stakeholders. Consistent with the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, the rule establishes the Coordinated Interagency Transmission Authorizations and Permits (CITAP) Program to better coordinate Federal permitting processes and establish a two-year deadline for completion of Federal authorizations and permits for electric transmission.

The CITAP program helps transmission developers navigating the Federal review process, providing:

  • Improved Permitting Review with Two-Year Timelines: DOE will serve as the lead coordinator for environmental review and permitting activities between all participating Federal agencies and project developers, ultimately making the Federal permitting process for transmission projects more efficient. DOE will lead an interagency pre-application process to ensure that developer submissions for Federal authorizations are ready for review on binding two-year timelines, without compromising critical National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requirements. This will significantly improve the efficiency of the permitting process for project developers by collecting information necessary for required Federal authorizations to site a transmission facility before starting the permitting process.
  • Sustained Integrity in Environmental Review Process: DOE will work with the relevant agencies to prepare a single NEPA environmental review document to support each relevant Federal agency’s permit decision making, reducing duplication of work. Further, state siting authorities may participate in the CITAP Program alongside Federal agencies and take advantage of the efficiencies and resources DOE is offering through the program, including the single environmental review document, as a basis for their own decision-making.
  • Transparent Transmission Permitting: The CITAP Program will require a comprehensive public participation plan that helps project developers identify community impacts from proposed lines at the outset of the project and encourages early engagement by potential applicants with communities and Tribes. The CITAP Program will allow potential applicants and agencies to coordinate via an online portal, which will allow project developers to directly upload relevant information and necessary documentation and will offer a one-stop-shop for their Federal permitting communications. The online portal will also allow participating Federal agencies to view and provide input during the initial document collection process and during Federal environmental reviews.

“The Permitting Council is excited to have CITAP as a partner as we work together to bring clarity, transparency and efficiency to the federal permitting process for crucial transmission projects,” says Eric Beightel, Permitting Council Executive Director. “The ambitious clean energy goals of the Biden-Harris administration cannot be achieved without the transmission infrastructure needed to deliver renewable energy to consumers. This rule is a significant step forward in bringing coordination and accountability into the permitting review of these vital projects, and a perfect complement to our FAST-41 permitting assistance program, enabling us to deliver clean and affordable energy to homes across the nation.” A public webinar will be held on May 15. Register now.

Increasing Investor Confidence

Today, DOE also announced the selection of one additional conditional project from the first round of capacity contract applications through the Transmission Facilitation Program (TFP).

Thanks to an investment of $331 million from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP-N) will bolster resource adequacy in the West by bringing wind energy from Idaho to Southern Nevada and to customers in California, and providing a pathway for solar resources to meet evolving reliability needs in the Pacific Northwest. With construction anticipated to start in 2025, the proposed, 285-mile line will bring more than 2,000 MW of needed transmission capacity to the region and create over 300 new, high quality and union construction jobs. The SWIP-N line will also help increase grid resilience by providing an alternate route to deliver power supplies during wildfires or other system disruptions. This project will also upgrade a key substation in Nevada, unlocking an additional 1,000 MW of capacity along the existing One Nevada Line, a major transmission corridor in Southern Nevada.

The National Transmission Needs Study, released in October 2023, estimates that by 2035 there will be a need for 3.3 gigawatts of new transfer capacity between the Mountain and Northwest regions to unlock the power sector emissions savings enabled by the Investing in America agenda. The SWIP-N project contributes 58% of this interregional transmission need.

Funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Transmission Facilitation Program is a $2.5 billion revolving fund to help overcome the financial hurdles associated with building new, large-scale transmission lines and upgrading existing transmission lines. Under the program, DOE is authorized to borrow up to $2.5 billion to purchase a percentage of the total proposed capacity of the eligible transmission line. By offering capacity contracts, DOE increases the confidence of investors, encourages additional customers to purchase transmission line capacity, and reduces the overall risk for project developers.

Learn more about the Grid Deployment Office.

News item from U.S. DOE.


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