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Industry News

Western Governors Want FERCOut of Transmission Decisions

LCG, Sept. 10, 2001--Governors of a dozen Western states on Friday urged the U.S. Congress to join the states in their effort to prevent a federal takeover of regional electric power transmission systems.

In a letter to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the governors opposed as "unwarranted and inappropriate" proposals to preempt state authority over transmission line siting. They also said decisions on and enforcement of reliability standards should be made by the affected region, not the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Gov. Jane Dee Hull of Arizona, chairwoman of the Western Governors' Association, said legislation currently before the committee should focus on cooperation not federal usurpation of state authority.

"Western states, collectively and individually, have been very aggressive in addressing a wide range of energy issues, from extensive conservation measures to the siting and permitting of new generation," Hull said in a statement. "We have agreed to move forward on a plan for streamlining the permitting of interstate transmission by next June. We have clearly demonstrated that decisions on these issues are best made at the smallest, most appropriate geographic area."

In their letter, the governors said "Ensuring that citizens have access to reliable and affordable energy will require coordinated and consistent action by states, (Canadian) provinces and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission within the geographic boundaries of the market."

But they warned "It does not require federal preemption of state authority over transmission siting and does not require unilateral FERC authority to set and enforce reliability standards in the West. We oppose any schemes to empower FERC or (the Department of Energy) and relegate the states to an advisory role to those distant federal agencies."

The letter was signed by Governors Tony Knowles of Alaska, Gray Davis of California, Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, Mike Johanns of Nebraska, Kenny Guinn of Nevada, Gary Johnson of New Mexico, John Kitzhaber of Oregon, Bill Janklow of South Dakota, Mike Leavitt of Utah, Gary Locke of Washington and Jim Geringer of Wyoming.

"We oppose proposals to give FERC unfettered authority to set and enforce reliability standards," the governors wrote. "The agency does not have the expertise, resources or local knowledge to successfully execute such responsibilities."

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