WASHINGTON – Nearly three weeks ago an amendment that appears to strengthen a controversial power line policy was slipped into a popular piece of federal energy legislation.
The Clean Energy Act, which cuts back government money for big oil companies and pushes alternative fuel production, passed the House in January and the Senate June 21. A late-amendment in the Senate’s version of that bill, however, expands the U.S. Department of Energy’s definition of what can be classified as a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor.
An NIETC is a geographic area where, under certain circumstances, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can overrule state authority to fast-track power line proposals, like New York Regional Interconnect’s, in places that have severe energy congestion.
“It looks as though it snuck through without anybody seeing it,” said Norwich resident Dr. Glenn Stein, a NYRI opponent. “It shows that somebody on the other side of this issue is looking at this as well.”
The amendment, introduced by Senator John Thune (R-South Dakota) after the clean energy bill was voted on, furthers the DOE’s authority under the 2005 Energy Policy Act to designate places like Chenango County – an area that doesn’t suffer from energy congestion like downstate, but could act as a conduit to far-off power sources – as a part of a corridor.