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Agency Coordination for Transmission Facilities (8-FD-c)

Section 1221 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 amended Section 216(h) of the Federal Power Act to require that all federal agencies with authority to issue federal authorizations enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to ensure timely and coordinated review and permitting of electricity transmission facilities. The MOU developed by these agencies is designed to coordinate the various requirements for siting transmission projects and designate a single point-of-contact for developers. The regulations provide for the compilation of a single environmental review document in order to coordinate all permitting and environmental reviews required to be issued under federal law. 10 CFR 900.1.

This procedure improves coordination between developers, participating federal agencies, and states and tribes involved in the siting and permitting process. “Participating agencies” include the following:

Agency Coordination for Transmission Facilities Process

8-FD-c.1 to 8-FD-c.2 - Is the Project Subject to the 2009 MOU and a “Qualifying Project”?

The MOU does not apply to transmission lines that cross the U.S. international border, federal submerged lands, national marine sanctuaries, or the facilities constructed by federal Power Marketing Administrations (Bonneville Power Administration, Southeastern Power Administration, Southwestern Power Administration, andWestern Area Power Administration). MOU III.

Under the MOU, only projects classified as “qualifying projects” will be eligible. These projects are high voltage transmission line projects (generally, though not necessarily, 230 kV or above) and their attendant facilities. Also included are regionally or nationally significant transmission lines and their attendant facilities, in which all or part of a proposed transmission line crosses jurisdiction administered by more than one participating agency. Qualifying projects do not include transmission projects proposed to be sited in a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs) pursuant to section 216(b) of the FPA.

8-FD-c.3 – Determine Lead Agency

The United States Department of Energy (DOE) will designate a lead agency for qualifying projects which require NEPA review. 10 CFR 900.6(a)(1). This designation will recognize the agency with the most significant land management interests related to the qualifying project or the agency recommended by other participating agencies impacted by the project to be the lead agency.

If the project will cross United States Department of Interior-administered lands and United States Department of Agriculture-administered lands, then the two agencies will consult and jointly determine:

  • Whether a sufficient land management interest exists to support their assumption of the Lead Agency role; and
  • If so, which of their two agencies should assume that role.

DOI and USDA will notify DOE of their determination in writing or electronically. MOU III.

If the project will cross any other agency lands, then the relevant participating agencies will consult and jointly determine a lead agency within 20 days after determining that the proposal is a qualifying project. MOU III.

8-FD-c.4 – Provide Notice of Lead Agency Determination

The agencies will notify DOE of their Lead Agency Determination in writing or electronically. Unless DOE notifies those participating agencies of its objection within 2 business days, such determination is deemed accepted. MOU III.

8-FD-c.5 – Will the Project Cross BLM or USFS Land?

If the project will cross BLM or USFS land, then the BLM and USFS will need to comply with “Service First” requirements. “Service First” grants partnership authority to all agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture and the United States Department of Interior. “Service First” is designed to facilitate easy cooperation between USDA and DOI entities. An Authorizing Officer will be chosen from one of the agencies to oversee all necessary permitting which would be required from both BLM and USFS.

8-FD-c.5 – Determine Authorizing Officer

BLM and USFS will designate an authorizing officer, which may come from either agency. The authorizing officer has the authority and responsibility to supervise the work of BLM and USFS personnel on project teams and to issue the right of way and temporary use permits on federal lands they administer.

8-FD-c.6 – Determine Project Manager

The authorizing officer will select a project manager for each qualifying project. The project manager will have the authority and responsibility to oversee the project and facilitate the issuance of the relevant final authorizing document(s) for the project.

8-FD-c.7 – Conduct Pre-application Mechanism

The lead agency will notify participating agencies of proposed qualifying projects in a timely manner and facilitate a pre-application meeting for the prospective developer and relevant federal and state agencies and tribes to:

  • Communicate key issues of concern;
  • Explain applicable processes;
  • Outline the data requirements and applicant submissions necessary to complete the required federal agency reviews in a timely manner; and
  • Establish schedules.

8-FD-c.8 – Submit a Request for Coordination

The developer must file a request for coordination with DOE. 10 CFR 900.5(a). The request for coordination must include the following:

  • The exact legal name of the developer, its principal place of business, the type of entity (individual, partnership, corporation, etc.), the State laws under which the developer is organized, and the contact information of the person(s) to whom communications concerning the request for coordination should be addressed;
  • A concise general description of the proposed transmission facility sufficient to explain its scope and purpose, including:
  1. The voltage and type of current (alternating or direct);
  2. The length of the transmission line;
  3. The design and height of the support structures;
  4. The proposed route (including the beginning and ending nodes of the transmission project, and a brief geographical description of the proposed route);
  5. A map of the proposed route (if available);
  6. Any ancillary facilities associated with the proposed route;
  7. The proposed dates for the beginning and completion of construction and the commencement of service;
  8. Whether the developer for a federal authorization of the proposed transmission facility has submitted an interconnection request with a transmission organization or electric reliability organization approved by FERC; and
  9. The anticipated length of time the proposed transmission facility will be in service. 10 CFR 900.5(b)(2).
  • A list of all permitting entities from which federal authorizations pertaining to the proposed transmission facility are needed, including the docket numbers of pending applications with permitting entities;
  • A list of non-federal entities that have their own separate non-federal permitting and environmental reviews pertaining to the proposed transmission facility, including the docket numbers of relevant applications;
  • A signed statement to the Director of the DOE that the developer has served a copy of the request for coordination to all permitting entities, and all non-federal entities that have their own separate non-federal permitting and environmental reviews; and
  • A statement by the developer certifying that it has informed the non-federal entities that have their own separate non-federal permitting and environmental reviews pertaining to the proposed transmission facility that they may coordinate their permitting and environmental reviews with DOE and the permitting entities pursuant to section 16 USC 824p(h)(4)(A). 10 CFR 900.5(b).

When DOE receives a request for coordination, they will determine what level of coordination between agencies is appropriate for the project.

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