Murkowski Urges Careful Analysis in Transmission Fix

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today stressed the importance of working with states and stakeholders to expand the nation’s electrical transmission infrastructure.
At a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski said there may be a need to increase federal siting authority for transmission projects but Congress should first give careful consideration to the role of states in determining where best to place new power lines.
“I’m concerned about giving FERC a job that the states, working collaboratively, could do better,” Murkowski said. “Changing where the decision is made won’t necessarily resolve the objections to siting new transmission lines.”
Murkowski noted, however, that the nation’s transmission infrastructure has failed to keep up with growing demand – a problem that is expected to only get worse with time. Murkowski said improving the nation’s transmission capacity is crucial to advancing the use of renewable energy sources.  
“We can generate all the electricity from wind and other renewable sources we want, but it doesn’t do us any good if we don’t have the capacity to get it to consumers,” Murkowski said.
At the same time, Murkowski said, it’s important not to limit access to the grid to power generated from renewable energy only.
“We need more power, period,” Murkowski said. “We shouldn’t restrict access to our transmission lines to one form of energy over another. We need to make the grid more reliable and secure, not restrict badly needed power from the grid.”
Murkowski said the energy committee needs to give careful consideration of who should be responsible for the cost of expanding the transmission system before moving ahead with legislation.
In the 2005 Energy Policy Act, Congress directed the Department of Energy to designate National Transmission Corridors in congested areas and provided the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with back-stop siting authority. To date, not a single transmission line has been sited pursuant to the act.