The Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act of 2009 – Summary

March 22, 2009 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

The Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act of 2009 – Summary

Sec. 402. Renewable Energy Zones: This bill directs the President to designate renewable energy zones, which are areas that can generate in excess of 1 gigawatt of electricity from renewable energy, include rural areas or Federal land, and have insufficient transmission capacity to achieve their renewable energy generation potential. This bill excludes environmentally sensitive and culturally significant areas from renewable energy zones.

Electricity from renewable energy is defined to include solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, incremental hydroelectric capacity and hydrokinetic resources.

Some areas, especially the Western U.S., already have processes in place to identify renewable energy zones. Recognizing the ongoing efforts in the Western U.S., this bill allows the President to use zones designated through existing processes, and sets deadlines on designating renewable energy zones for the Western Interconnection of 90 days after enactment of the bill and 270 days after enactment of the bill for the Eastern Interconnection.

Sec. 403. Interconnection-Wide Green Transmission Grid Planning: Transmission planning today is a geographically fragmented, lengthy process that does not address the types of projects needed to integrate renewable energy into the transmission grid. The U.S. electric transmission network is divided into three interconnections, the West, the East, and Texas. This bill requires participatory and transparent transmission planning on an interconnection-wide basis for green transmission projects to integrate renewable electricity resources from renewable energy zones into the transmission grid. The objective of the planning process is to enhance transmission access for electricity from renewable energy in renewable energy zones, while recognizing national economic, reliability, and security goals. The planning process established in this bill must be based on established and projected Federal and State renewable energy policies and targets. This bill requires the planning process to solicit input from all stakeholders, including transmission owners, regional transmission organizations, independent system operators, State commissions, electricity generators, prospective developers of new transmission and generation resources, regional reliability organizations, and environmental protection and land, water, and wildlife conservation groups.

This bill requires the plan to consider alternatives to new transmission, including energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, and cost-effective energy storage.

To expedite building transmission to meet the President’s renewable energy goal, this bill requires the interconnection-wide green transmission plans to be submitted to the Commission within 1 year of the deadline for designation of renewable energy zones.

If a regional planning entity does not organize a planning process, or does not complete a plan by the deadlines established by FERC, this bill gives FERC backstop planning authority to establish a planning process and conduct planning, in consultation with DOE, federal power marketing authorities, the electric reliability organization and regional reliability organizations. This bill also gives FERC backstop planning authority for any state that does not participate in an interconnection-wide planning process.

To cover costs of regional planning entities and states participating in interconnection-wide planning, this bill establishes a surcharge on all transmission customers. The funds from the surcharge will be distributed to regional planning entities and to states whose governors certify that they are participating in green transmission planning for the first year, and subject to timely submission of a green transmission grid plan in subsequent years. State Governors are also required to demonstrate that planning entities are able to effectively represent a wide spectrum of stakeholders, including the protection and conservation of land, consumer protection, and fish and wildlife protection.

Sec. 404. Federal Siting of Green Transmission Grid Project Facilities: Transmission line siting is currently conducted through a separate process in each state, which can cause lengthy delays for multi-state transmission lines. This bill allows transmission project developers to apply to FERC for federal backstop siting for green transmission projects that are part of the green transmission grid plan and integrate renewable energy resources from renewable energy zones, or for transmission projects that FERC determines are needed to integrate renewable generation resources. For states that participate in interconnection-wide planning, this bill requires FERC to consider state recommendations in siting the line, and to work with states to resolve differences. This bill gives FERC the authority to issue a construction permit, including the right of eminent domain, for green transmission projects that meet specific conditions, including a minimum renewable requirement, optimizing transmission capacity, and providing transmission access to states the project passes through. To coordinate the process of siting transmission on Federal lands, this bill sets FERC as the lead agency for environmental reviews, with a single environmental review document, and directs affected agencies to develop a memorandum of understanding, including a schedule for environmental review and a budget necessary to carry out the schedule.

This bill ensures that green transmission projects are truly green by requiring transmission line siting to consider and use alternative routes where possible to avoid environmentally sensitive or culturally significant areas. In addition, this bill requires transmission projects that use federal siting authority to ensure that at least 75% of the capacity of transmission project is available to renewable generation, or the maximum possible amount of renewable generation that can be reliably interconnected. In addition, to ensure that renewable generation resources have access to transmission, transmission providers for green transmission projects that use federal siting must give priority to load-serving entities contracting with renewable generators, or to renewable generation developers, when offering firm transmission rights.

As a condition for federal siting, each transmission project developer must demonstrate that it has sufficient capacity to connect multiple renewable generation resources in the renewable energy zone(s) to which it connects, based on reliability criteria, land use limitations, economic considerations and the potential generation capacity of the renewable energy zones interconnected to the project. This will allow future renewable generators to connect to the transmission system without building multiple transmission lines through an area.

Large transmission lines may pass through states without providing any benefit to the state. This bill requires green transmission projects that use federal siting authority to provide transmission access to load or generation in each state they pass through. If a project cannot provide interconnection to a state, that state will be eligible for additional funds through DOE grants.

Sec. 405. Grants for green transmission grid project plans: This bill authorizes the DOE, in consultation with FERC, to make grants to states and planning entities to implement the planning and siting described in this bill, for transmission improvements including smart grid investments, for training for state public utility commission staff, for mitigation of landowner concerns, for habitat and wildlife conservation, for security upgrades to the transmission system, for energy storage, for reliability projects, transmission business development, and for distributed generation projects. These grants are funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and in the future through sale of carbon allowances if a carbon allowance system is implemented.

These grants are available only to states that participate in green transmission grid planning and implement green transmission grid projects in a timely fashion.

Sec. 406. Cost Allocation: This bill encourages the States and participants in a green transmission plan to agree on and propose a cost allocation to FERC. If no cost allocation is filed, this bill allows FERC to determine a just and reasonable cost allocation that takes account of the widely distributed impacts of the transmission project. This bill allows FERC to allocate costs to all users, owners, and operators of the bulk power system in a region of an interconnection or throughout an interconnection.

This bill provides that costs of a green transmission project initially built with extra transmission capacity to multiple renewable generators can initially be allocated with the cost allocation. As new generation projects interconnect, they will pay their share of the transmission grid project, reducing the effect on rates of the transmission provider’s customers.

Sec. 407. Encouraging Clean Energy Development in Renewable Energy Zones: To ensure that transmission projects needed to integrate renewable energy resources get built in a timely manner, this bill allows federal transmitting utilities to construct projects if no privately-funded entity commits to financing them within 3 years. This bill extends bonding authority of federal transmitting utilities to finance construction of transmission.

Sec. 408. Federal power marketing agencies: This bill directs federal power marketing agencies to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, by developing wind, solar and geothermal integration programs, and directs the federal transmitting utilities to undertake renewable electricity and energy security projects. It also directs WAPA to study reregulating hydroelectric dams and allows WAPA to fund a wind-hydro or solar-hydro integration demonstration project.

Sec. 409. Solar Energy Reserve Pilot Project: This bill establishes a pilot program on Federal land for commercial utility-scale solar electric energy systems on lands identified by the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Energy.

Sec. 410. Investment incentives: To encourage investment in green transmission projects, this bill extends infrastructure investment incentives from the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to include transmission projects that integrate renewable energy resources into the transmission system. The limit on third-party financing of transmission investments in the Western Area and Southwestern Area Power Administration territories is raised to $2.5 billion.

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Entry filed under: Political Action, Renewable Energy. Tags: , .

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