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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has issued two draft national interest electric transmission corridor (NIETC) designations for areas in which consumers are adversely affected by transmission capacity constraints or congestion.

The proposed Mid-Atlantic Area NIETC includes counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland and Virginia and all of New Jersey, Delaware and the District of Columbia. The proposed Southwest Area NIETC includes counties in California, Arizona and Nevada.

The draft designations come after the DOE reviewed its "National Electric Transmission Congestion Study" released in August 2006. The DOE decided to issue draft designations before making final NIETC designations in order to provide additional opportunities for review and comment by affected states, regional entities and the general public.

Designation of national corridors is supported in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 by a provision allowing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue permits for the construction or modification of transmission in national corridors. FERC's siting authority does not replace states' siting authority, but rather will operate as a backup under certain conditions. The law allows FERC to issue permits when:

- a state does not have the authority to approve siting of facilities or to consider the interstate benefits that would result from new or updated facilities,
- the entity seeking to build or upgrade facilities is a utility that does not qualify to apply for siting approval in a state because the entity does not supply power for customers in that state,
- the state siting authority withholds approval for the facilities for more than one year after an application is filed or one year after the designation of a national corridor or
- the state establishes conditions for building or upgrading that will reduce benefits of the construction.

A 60-day comment period will begin the day draft NEITC designations are published in the Federal Register. During the comment period, the DOE will confer with affected states and will hold public meetings on May 15 in Washington, D.C., May 17 in San Diego, and May 23 in New York City.

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