16 Nov 2023
In recognition of the need to streamline the siting and permitting of critical transmission and clean energy projects, the Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing reforms to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The proposal, published in the Federal Register today, expands the scope of the “categorical exclusions” for transmission and clean energy. These exclusions apply to projects demonstrated to not have a significant environmental effect. The proposal revises existing exclusions for solar energy and transmission, including removing the mileage limitation for transmission upgrades and rebuilds, and allowing segments of lines to relocate to existing rights-of-way or within previously disturbed or developed lands. In addition, the proposal contains a new exclusion for certain energy storage projects within previously disturbed or developed areas.
Following is a statement from American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) President and CEO Gregory Wetstone on the proposal:
“A dramatic increase in renewable energy and transmission infrastructure is needed to enhance reliability, lower energy costs, and maximize the benefits of the Inflation Reduction Act. A key barrier is the often lengthy siting and permitting process.
“ACORE supports the use of categorical exclusions for projects that will produce a cleaner grid and not adversely impact the environment. This mechanism improves siting and permitting while maintaining NEPA’s core environmental provisions.
“We are pleased with the proposal released today and look forward to engaging with the Energy Department on a final rule that will efficiently advance U.S. climate and renewable energy objectives in a safe and environmentally sound manner.”
ACORE | www.acore.org