Western Govs Urge Congress to Act on Electric Reliability

The Western Governors' Association (WGA) is urging Congress to move quickly on federal electricity reliability legislation, saying that such a move is needed to ensure reliability in the western interconnection. Meanwhile, Western governors last week are expected to receive a draft report that will detail where in the region it is economically feasible to build transmission lines in order to relieve congestion.

The WGA made its plea for federal electricity reliability legislation in a recent letter to Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and John Dingell (D-MI) from Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, chairman of WGA. Tauzin is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and Dingell is the ranking minority member.

"We urge the Congress to support the rapid enactment of federal electricity reliability legislation that provides for delegation and deference to decisions made within an electrical interconnection and authorizes the establishment of state advisory bodies," wrote Kempthorne. Such provisions are embodied in consensus legislation prepared by the North American Electric Reliability Council. The electric reliability provisions passed the Senate last year and are included in several bills pending in Congress.

Western governors voiced support for such legislation a year ago and have since reiterated their support on several occasions. "The enactment of federal reliability provisions that reflect the position of Western governors is vital to assuring reliability in the Western interconnection," Kempthorne told Dingell and Tauzin. "We urge you to support rapid action to enact such legislation."

Meanwhile, western governors were expected to receive a draft report last week related to the development of a conceptual transmission plan for the region. The governors in May of this year recommended several actions that they said should be initiated to relieve congestion in the region's electricity transmission system and to streamline decision-making to meet future needs as more power comes online. Among other things, the governors created a working group to develop a conceptual plan of where it is economically feasible to build transmission lines.

Doug Larson, a WGA spokesperson, said that the hope is to have a final report completed for the governors prior to the WGA's annual meeting, which runs from Aug. 12 through Aug. 14. "I think we're looking at maybe toward the first of August," Larson told NGI. At the WGA's annual meeting next month, the governors are expected to, among other things, discuss the development of a transmission financing strategy for the region.

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