On October 28, 2009, the Obama Administration released a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) signed by nine agencies to streamline and expedite the siting and construction of electric transmission lines on federal land.  The MOU was signed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Energy (“DOE”), Environmental Protection Agency, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

 The goal of the MOU is to expedite the approval of new transmission lines, reduce expense and uncertainty in the process, reduce costs, increase accessibility to renewable energy, and jumpstart job creation.  The MOU does not alter the authority of any participating agencies, and all existing environmental reviews and safeguards remain in place.

 Under the agreement, an applicant will no longer be required to obtain siting approval from multiple agencies.  Instead, the DOE will designate a lead agency for coordinating all required federal authorizations and Federal Agency Reviews for transmission proposals.  The Lead Agency also will establish a consolidated process for the environmental reports and reviews.   The coordinating agencies also must set and meet clear deadlines and create a single record to be posted on line to improve the transparency of the process.

 Because DOE has previously delegated its authority to FERC for transmission projects located within National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, that designation will not be affected by this MOU.   FERC also will retain authority to license hydro-powered facilities.  Other agencies also have certain delineated duties according to the MOU that falls within their agency scope.

 The MOU is available at: http://www.doi.gov/documents/MOU-TransmissionSitingonFederalLands_001.pdf