New transmission legislation offered

The legislative docket is getting filled out. Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has introduced his own transmission legislation. It becomes the second major transmission vehicle in the Senate; last week, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced his own bill.

The Bingaman and Reid bills are similar but not identical. Both bills set up a planning process for designation of new high voltage transmission lines that are needed to serve renewable energy facilities, require costs to be allocated among those who would benefit from the lines, and streamline the siting and approval process.

Bingaman's Energy and Natural Resources Committee plans a hearing on the transmission bills this Thursday.

The more difficult question is whether transmission legislation will be lumped together with legislation requiring a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) and climate change legislation. If so, the process of getting it passed will be much more complicated. Stay tuned.

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