On April 26, 2010, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) released its 2009 National Transmission Congestion Study, eliminating New England and central Arizona as “congested areas of concern.”

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (“EPAct 2005”) required DOE to conduct a study every three years to identify areas that are transmission constrained as Congested Areas of Concern (“CAC”) in the Eastern and Western Interconnections.  Based on the study and public comments, the Secretary of Energy may designate any geographic area with congestion as a national interest electric transmission corridor. 

In the 2006 Study, DOE designated New England as a CAC because of variations in electricity pricing across the region and reliability problems in Boston, southwest Connecticut and other locations.  In the 2009 Study, DOE found that congestion problems in New England had improved due to a variety of actions.  For example, two new utility-scale and small-scale supply resources have come online in congested areas, “aggressive” demand response programs have reduced peak loads, and there is a “strong” queue of new generation projects.  DOE also notes in its 2009 Study that New England has a variety of new reliability and economics-oriented transmission projects either completed or in the queue.  Due to New England’s demand response resource growth, and new generation potential, DOE no longer identifies New England as a CAC.

In the 2006 Study, DOE also identified the Phoenix-Tucson region as a CAC because population and load growth led to transmission congestion.  In the 2009 Study, however, DOE reported that new transmission and generation projects have been approved by regulatory authorities and “appear adequate” to deal with energy reliability needs.  DOE also reported that the state’s history of transmission development through Biennial Transmission Assessment indicates that potential projects will receive swift regulatory approval.  DOE expects that most projects under development in the Phoenix-Tucson region will be ready by their scheduled dates.  As a result of the progress in dealing with congestion issues, DOE does not identify the Phoenix-Tucson area as a CAC.

A fully copy of the 2009 Report by DOE can be found at: http://congestion09.anl.gov/documents/docs/Congestion_Study_2009.pdf