Integrated Interagency Pre-Application (8-FD-c)
- with jurisdictional interest;
- responsible for issuing a federal authorization;
- with relevant expertise with respect to environmental and other pertinent issues; or
- provides funding for the proposed qualifying project. 10 C.F.R. § 900.3.
A Non-Federal Entity is an Indian Tribe, multi-state governmental entity, or state and local government agency:
- with relevant expertise and/or jurisdiction within the project area;
- is responsible for conducting permitting and environmental review;
- has special expertise with respect to environmental and other pertinent issues; or
- provides funding for the proposed qualifying. 10 C.F.R. § 900.3.
A developer may apply to DOE to use the IIP Process if they have a “qualifying project” or if they meet the definition of a “other project” and receive approval from the Assistant Secretary of DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.2 (a). The IIP Process does not apply to electric transmission facilities wholly located within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas interconnection. 10 C.F.R. § 900.2(c).
The IIP Process is intended for a developer who has already identified potential study corridors or potential routes within an established project area and the proposed locations of any intermediate substations. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.4 (a). It is also intended to accommodate qualifying projects that have been selected in a regional electric transmission plan for purposes of cost allocation or a similar process where an electric transmission plan has been identified and the permitting and siting phase must commence. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.4 (a). The IIP Process 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. Memorandum of Understanding Among Various Federal Agencies Regarding Coordination in Federal Agency Review of Electric Transmission Facilities on Federal Land.
The goal of the IIP Process is to provide timely review by facilitating early coordination and information sharing for permitting and environmental reviews required under federal law to site qualified electric transmission projects. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.1. The IIP Process also encourages early identification of potential siting constraints before the developer submits any applications for federal authorizations. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.1.
The IIP Process occurs before any application or request for authorization is submitted to federal entities, consists of two meetings, provides for the selection of a lead agency for reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and ultimately results in a report that informs the NEPA lead agency’s environmental reviews once the developer files an application. The report can also be used by other agencies on related project decisions. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.1.
The IIP Process, codified in 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.1–900.6, originated from a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that all federal agencies with authority to issue federal authorizations for interstate electric transmission facilities entered into in 2009. These agencies were directed by the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct), which amended Section 216(h) of the Federal Power Act (FPA), to enter into that MOU to ensure timely and coordinated review and permitting of electricity transmission facilities. The EPAct’s amendment to the FPA also requires DOE serve as the lead agency in coordinating the federal authorization and review process with Native American tribes, multi-state entities, and state agencies that have their own separate permitting and environmental reviews.
The federal agencies that entered the MOU in 2009 are:
- United States Department of Energy;
- United States Department of Agriculture;
- United States Department of Commerce;
- United States Department of Defense;
- United States Environmental Protection Agency;
- Council on Environmental Quality;
- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation;
- United States Department of the Interior, and
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
In 2016, DOE modified the coordination process detailed in the 2009 MOU and codified it as the IIP Process. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.1–900.6.
Integrated Interagency Pre-Application Process
8-FD-c.1 – Is the Project a “Qualifying Project”?
A developer may apply to DOE to use the IIP Process if they have a “qualifying project”.
A “qualifying project” is defined as:
- A non-marine high voltage electric transmission line (230 kV or above) and its attendant facilities, or other regionally or nationally significant non-marine electric transmission line and its attendant facilities, in which:
- All or part of the proposed electric transmission line is used for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce for sale at wholesale, and
- All or part of the proposed electric transmission line crosses jurisdictions administered by more than one federal entity or crosses jurisdictions administered by a federal entity is considered for federal financial assistance from a federal entity. 10 C.F.R. § 900.3.
Qualifying projects do not include those for which a project proponent seeks a construction or modification permit from the FERC for electric transmission facilities in a DOE-designated National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor under section 216(b) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824p(b). 10 C.F.R. § 900.3.
8-FD-c.2 – Is the Project Considered an “Other Project”?
Even if a project is not a “qualifying project” under the rule, persons (developers) seeking DOE assistance in the federal authorization process for “other projects” may submit a request to the Assistant Secretary of DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability to utilize the IIP Process. 10 C.F.R. §§ 900.2.
“Other project” is defined in the rule as:
- Facilities for the transmission of electric energy in interstate commerce for the sale of electric energy at wholesale that do not meet the 230 kV or above qualification, or are not otherwise identified as regionally or nationally significant with attendant facilities, in which all or part of a proposed transmission line:
- Crosses jurisdictions administered by more than one Federal entity; or
- Crosses jurisdictions administered by a Federal entity and is considered for Federal financial assistance from a Federal entity.
8-FD-c.3 – Request to Use IIP Process
A developer of a project that meets the definition of “other project” may submit a Request to Use the IIP Process (Request) to the DOE. The Request must contain, at minimum, the following:
- The legal name of the requester including:
- its principal place of business,
- whether the requester is an individual, partnership, corporation, or other entity,
- citations to the state laws under which the requester is organized or authorized, and
- the name, title, and mailing address of the person or persons to whom communications concerning the request for coordination are to be addressed;
- A general description of the proposed other project sufficient to explain its scope and purpose;
- A list of all potential Federal entities involved in the proposed other project; and
- A list of anticipated Non-Federal entities involved in the proposed other project, including any agency serial or docket numbers for pending applications.
8-FD-c.4 to 8-FD-c.5 – Review Request to Use IIP Process for Approval
The Assistant Secretary of DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability must review the Request for approval. The Assistant Secretary may approve that Request at their discretion. If accepted, the project will be treated as a qualifying project under the rule and the developer must submit then submit an Initiation Request to DOE to utilize the IIP Process.
8-FD-c.6 – Initiation Request
A developer must submit an Initiation Request to DOE in order to start the IIP Process. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(b). The Initiation Request must be based on best available information and must include, at a minimum, the following:
- A Summary of the Qualifying Project;
- An Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary;
- Associated Maps, Geospatial Information, and Studies; and
- A Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues.
Summary of the Qualifying Project
The Summary of the Qualifying Project is limited to a maximum of ten (10) single-spaced pages, and must include the following:
- A statement that the developer requests to use the IIP Process;
- Primary contact information for the developer, including a primary email address;
- The legal information for the developer, including:
- legal name,
- principal place of business,
- whether it is an individual, partnership, corporation, or other entity,
- the state laws under which the developer is organized or authorized, and
- documentation related to designation by irrevocable power of power of attorney of an agent residing in the United States if the developer resides or has its principal office outside the United States
- A description of the developer’s financial and technical capability to construct, operate, maintain, and decommission the qualifying project;
- A statement of the developer’s interests and objectives;
- Regional electric transmission planning documents, to the extent that they are available, including:
- status of regional reliability studies,
- regional congestion or other related studies where applicable, and
- interconnection requests;
- A brief description of the evaluation criteria and methods used by the developer to identify and develop the potential study corridors or potential routes for the proposed qualifying project;
- A brief description of the proposed qualifying project, including:
- justification for the line,
- intermediate substations (if applicable), and,
- to the extent known, any information about constraints or flexibility with respect to the qualifying project;
- The developer’s proposed schedule, including:
- timeframe for filing necessary federal and state applications,
- construction start date, and planned in-service date if the qualifying project receives needed federal authorizations and approvals by non-federal entities; and
- A list of potentially affected federal and non-federal entities.
Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary
The Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary is limited to a maximum of 20 single-spaced pages, not including associated maps, and must include at least the following, based on existing reasonably-available information:
- An overview of topographical and resource features that are relevant to the siting of electric transmission lines present;
- A summary of known land uses, including:
- Federal lands,
- Tribal lands,
- State public lands of various types,
- Associated land ownership, where appropriate, and
- Any land use restrictions;
- A summary of known or potential adverse effects to cultural and historic resources;
- A summary of known or potential conflicts with or adverse impacts on military activities;
- A summary of known or potential impacts on the U.S. aviation system, including FAA restricted airspace;
- A summary of known or potential impacts on the U.S. marine transportation system, including impacts on waterways under jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard;
- A summary of known information about federal- and state-protected avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species, and critical habitat or otherwise protected habitat, that may be present, as well as other biological resources information that is necessary for an environmental review;
- A summary of the aquatic habitats (to include estuarine environments, and water bodies, including wetlands, as well as any known river crossings and potential constraints caused by impacts to navigable waters of the United States considered for the qualifying project);
- A summary of known information about the presence of low-income communities and minority populations that could be affected by the qualifying project;
- Identification of existing or proposed qualifying project facilities or operations in the project area;
- A summary of the proposed use of previously-disturbed lands, existing, agency-designated corridors, including but not limited to corridors designated under Section 503 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act and Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, transportation rights-of-way, and the feasibility for co-location of the qualifying project with existing facilities or location in existing corridors and transportation rights-of-way; and
- A summary of potential avoidance, minimization, and conservation measures, such as compensatory mitigation (onsite and offsite), developed through the use of Regional Mitigation Approach or, where available, Regional Mitigation Strategies or Plans, and considered by the developer to reduce the potential impacts of the proposed qualifying project to resources warranting or requiring mitigation.
Associated Maps, Geospatial Information, and Studies
Associated Maps, Geospatial Information, and Studies support the information provided in the summary descriptions for the Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary, and do not contribute to the overall page length of the IIP Initiation Request. A developer must provide all maps electronically, including:
- A map of the project area showing the locations of potential study corridors or potential routes;
- Detailed maps that accurately show information supporting summaries of the known existing environmental resources within the potential study corridors or potential routes;
- Existing data or studies relevant to the summary information provided in the Summary of the qualifying project and Affected Environmental Resources and Impacts Summary;
- Citations identifying sources, data, and analyses used to develop the IIP Process initiation request materials.
Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues
The Summary of Early Identification of Project Issues is limited to a maximum of ten (10) single-spaced pages, is intended to provide a summary of stakeholder outreach or interactions conducted for the qualifying project prior to the submission of the Initiation Request and to inform the development of issues and project alternatives for study in an environmental review document. It must also:
- Discuss specific tools and actions the developer used to facilitate stakeholder communications and public information, including:
- an existing, current developer website for the proposed qualifying project, where available, and
- a readily-accessible, easily-identifiable, single point of contact for the developer;
- Identify how and when meetings about the location of potential study corridors or potential routes have been and would be publicized prior to the submission of applications for federal authorization, as well as where and when those meetings were held and how many more meetings may be planned during the IIP Process;
- Identify known stakeholders and how stakeholders are identified;
- Briefly explain how the developer responds to requests for information from stakeholders, as well as records stakeholder requests, information received, and developer responses to stakeholders;
- Provide the type of location in each county potentially affected by the proposed qualifying project, where the developer has provided publicly-available copies of documents and materials related to the proposed qualifying project;
- Describe the evaluation criteria the developer is using to identify and develop the potential study corridors or potential routes and that are presented by the developer to stakeholders during its project planning outreach efforts prior to submission of applications for federal authorizations or non-federal permits or authorizations;
- Provide information collected as a result of the developer’s stakeholder outreach efforts; and
- Include a summary of issues identified, differing project alternative corridors or routes, and revisions to routes developed as a result of issues identified by stakeholders during the developer’s stakeholder outreach efforts for the qualifying project.
8-FD-c.7 – Maintain IIP Process Administrative File
DOE maintains all information, including documents and communication, it receives or disseminates from the developer, federal entities, and non-federal entities during the IIP Process. 10 C.F.R. § 900.6(b). Therefore, whenever a federal entity communicates with the developer during the IIP Process, they are expected to include DOE in that communication. 10 C.F.R. § 900.6(a). This information is maintained in an IIP Process administrative file for entities to use in the future when they review any applications for federal authorizations for the proposed qualifying project. 10 C.F.R. § 900.6(b).
8-FD-c.8 – Notify Relevant Federal and Non-Federal Entities
DOE must notify all the relevant federal and non-federal entities that they should participate in the IIP Process within 15 days of receiving an Initiation Request. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(g). Along with that notification, DOE asks the entities to provide point of contact information and any questions or concerns about their participation in the IIP Process within 15 days. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(g).
8-FD-c.9 to 8-FD-c.11 – Review Initiation Request for Completeness
DOE must review the Initiation Request for completeness. Within 30 days of receiving the Initiation Request, DOE notifies the developer whether their request meets the information requirements contained in 10 C.F.R. 900.4(a)–(f), including whether the project constitutes a qualifying project. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(h)(1). If the project does not meet these requirements, DOE provides reasons for its determination, and if applicable, a description of how the developer may address any deficiencies so that DOE may reconsider its determination. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(h)(2).
At the same time as providing completeness notice to the developer, DOE shares an electronic copy of the developer’s Initiation Request and supplementary information with all of the relevant federal and non-federal entities. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(h)(2)(i). The federal and non-federal entities have at least 30 days to review this information prior to the initial meeting. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(j).
8-FD-c.14 – Hold Initial Meeting
DOE convenes the Initial Meeting no later than 45 days after notifying the developer and federal and non-federal entities that the Initiation Request meets the information requirements of the rule and constitutes a qualifying project. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(j). The meeting is held in the same region where the proposed qualifying project is located. During the Initial Meeting, the developer, federal and non-federal entities (herein parties) discuss any cost recovery requirements and the contents of the initiation request. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(j)(1)–(2). The parties also review and identify reasonable criteria for adding, deleting, or modifying preliminary routes from further consideration within the study corridors, including:
- Potential environmental, visual, historic, cultural, economic, social, or health effects based on the potential project’s proposed siting;
- Potential cultural and historic resources of concern;
- Areas under special protection by either federal statute or non-federal or federal entity decision; and
- Opportunities to site routes through designated corridors, previously disturbed lands, and lands with existing infrastructure.
The initial meeting discussion and feedback does not constitute a commitment by the federal entities (e.g., federal agencies) to approve or deny any federal authorization request and does not limit agency discretion for NEPA. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(j)(3)(v).
Furthermore, no federal entity (e.g., federal agency) will determine that the preliminary routes presented or discussed during the IIP Process constitute a range of reasonable alternatives for NEPA purposes or that the information provided during the IIP Process would satisfy the entirety of information needed for NEPA compliance or other applicable laws. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(j)(3)(v).
8-FD-c.15 to 8-FD-c.17 – Provide Summary of Initial Meeting Discussion
Within 15 days of the initial meeting, DOE provides a summary of the meeting discussion, key issues, and information gaps to all parties (i.e., developer, federal and non-federal entities). All parties then have another 15 days to review DOE’s summary and provide corrections to DOE. Thirty (30) days after the close of the review period, DOE will incorporate the meeting summary into the IIP Process administrative file and provide all parties a copy of the final meeting summary. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(j)(3)(vi).
8-FD-c.18 – Submit Close-Out Meeting Request
A developer must submit a complete Close-Out Meeting Request to DOE to conclude the IIP Process. A developer cannot submit this request less than 45 days following the initial meeting. A complete Close-Out Meeting Request must include, at minimum, the following:
- A statement that the developer is requesting the close-out meeting;
- A summary table of changes made to the project during the IIP Process, including potential environmental and community benefits from improved siting or design;
- Maps of updates to potential proposed routes within study corridors, including the line, substations, and other infrastructure, which include at least as much detail as required for the initial Meeting and as modified in response to stakeholder input and outreach and agency feedback, documented in the IIP Initial Meeting Summary;
- An updated summary of all project-specific biological, visual, cultural, historic, or other surveys sponsored by the developer. Biological surveys include those related to threatened, endangered, or otherwise protected avian, aquatic, and terrestrial species, and aquatic habitats;
- A schedule for completing upcoming field resource surveys, if known;
- An updated summary of all known or potential adverse impacts to natural resources;
- An updated summary of any known or potential adverse effects to cultural and historic resources;
- A conceptual plan for potential implementation and monitoring of mitigation measures, including avoidance, minimization, and conservation measures, such as compensatory mitigation (offsite and onsite), developed through the use of a regional mitigation approach or, where available, regional mitigation strategies or plans to reduce the potential impact of the proposed qualifying project to resources warranting or requiring mitigation;
- An estimated time of filing requests for federal authorizations for the project; and
- An estimated time of filing requests for all other authorizations and consultations with non-federal entities.
8-FD-c.19 to 8-FD-c.21 – Notify All Relevant Entities
Once DOE receives a Close-Out Request, it notifies all relevant federal and non-federal entities within 15 days. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(l)(1). Within 30 days, it determines whether the request meets the information requirements of the rule, informs the developer of its acceptance, and provides all relevant federal and non-federal entities with the close-out request materials. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(l)(1)–(2).
8-FD-c.22 – Hold Close-Out Meeting
Within 60 days of determining that the Close-Out Meeting Request meets the information requirements, DOE convenes a close-out meeting in the same region as the initial meeting. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(l)(3). During the close-out meeting, the parties discuss the following:
- Updates to the siting process, including stakeholder outreach and input;
- Key issues of concern and potential mitigation measures;
- Statutory and regulatory standards for federal authorizations;
- The process for completing required federal authorizations and its estimated time and cost; and
- Federal entities’ expectations for a complete application for federal authorization of the project.
The close-out meeting results in a description of the remaining issues of concern, identified information gaps or data needs, potential issues or conflicts that could impact the necessary federal authorization processing time, and any issues identified by participating non-federal entities. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(l).
8-FD-c.23 to 8-FD-c.26 – Identify NEPA Lead Agency
During the close-out meeting the federal entities identify the NEPA Lead Agency pursuant to 10 C.F.R. § 900.5. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(l). The process differs if the proposed project will pass through lands controlled by the United States Department of Interior or United States Department of Agriculture.
Department of Interior and US Department of Agriculture Lands
For proposed qualifying projects that cross lands administered by both Department of the Interior (DOI) and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the two agencies consult and jointly determine which one has a greater land management interest in the project and will therefore assume the role of NEPA Lead Agency. 10 C.F.R. § 900.5(a). The two agencies have 30 days to make this determination after receiving the initiation request from DOE, and must notify DOE in writing within 30 days of making the determination. 10 C.F.R. § 900.5(a)–(b). Unless DOE objects to this determination within 10 days of receiving it, the determination will be accepted and final. 10 C.F.R. § 900.5(c).
Lands not Administered by Department of Interior or US Department of Agriculture
For proposed qualifying projects that do not cross lands administered by both DOI and USDA, DOE and all other participating federal entities consult and jointly recommend a NEPA Lead Agency within 45 days of receiving an IIP Process close-out meeting request. 10 C.F.R. § 900.5(d). If the agencies are unable to decide, the agencies request that the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) decide by the close-out meeting, and no decision will be made without the proposed NEPA Lead Agency’s consent. 10 C.F.R. § 900.5(d).
8-FD-c.27 – Final IIP Resources Report
After the close-out meeting, DOE prepares a final IIP Resources Report, which provides a description of:
- The project;
- Stakeholder outreach and feedback;
- Environmental resources;
- Potential impacts with any associated maps and data;
- Potential issues; and
- Constraints identified by federal and non-federal entities.
Note: DOE includes the final IIP Resources Report in the IIP Process administrative file and recommend that all participating federal entities use the report to inform their NEPA processes for the project. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(l)(3)(vi)–(vii).
8-FD-c.28 – Identify a Preliminary Schedule for Authorizations
At the conclusion of the IIP Process, all participating federal and non-federal entities must identify a preliminary schedule for authorizations for the project contingent on the timely filing of applications and related materials. 10 C.F.R. § 900.4(l)(3)(viii).
- United States Department of Energy
- United States Department of Agriculture
- United States Department of Commerce
- United States Department of Defense
- United States Environmental Protection Agency
- Council on Environmental Quality
- Advisory Council on Historic Preservation
- United States Department of the Interior
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
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