Kevin Decker


Expansion and improvement of the nation’s electricity transmission system are crucial for increasing the amount of electricity generated by renewable energy sources. Renewable energy sources, such as wind and tidal, tend to be located far from population centers, and electricity transmission lines must bridge that gap. In addition to its importance for meeting renewable energy goals, a better connected and more robust transmission system also bolsters reliability because it can draw on many generation sources in the event that a generator or segment of the transmission network fails. And transmission facilitates generator competition by making it possible to transport lower-cost electricity from one part of the country to another area with higher electricity prices. Unfortunately, the current regulatory regime for siting transmission facilities has proven to be a barrier to needed transmission development. Historically, states have authority over physical siting of transmission lines whereas the federal government and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have had jurisdiction over the actual interstate transmission and sale of electricity. This division of power still exists today, despite recent legislative and regulatory attempts to overcome the limitations of the current federalism balance. With a focus on transmission challenges in Maine and New England, this Comment explores the current regulatory model and its balance of power between the federal and state governments and evaluates solutions proposed by commentators.

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