Formal designation of the first two priority areas for new high voltage grid wires in the United States confirm the wind industry's disappointment with the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors process for modernising America's electricity network. The Department of Energy (DOE) picked regions in the Southwest and the Mid-Atlantic for the first corridors, neither of which will speed up development of new wires for wind power. Early on in the corridor process, the wind industry had been hopeful that it would represent a major breakthrough in linking windy areas of the country with centres of population. "Even if everything goes the way DOE wants it to go, it's not necessarily going to bring on more megawatt in the next five years," says Rob Gramlich at the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). "It's more of a long term development of a tool as a policy lever." In extreme cases of inaction at the local level in permitting new transmission, the corridors process allows federal government to step in through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and accelerate permitting and regulatory approvals. But the wind lobby has been critical of the initiative for not going far enough in both the selection of geographic zones and its enforcement power. "We support it, we think in the long run it's good they have this tool available," says Gramlich. "But even if you have this backstop authority, it doesn't mean it will get used." AWEA had hoped for the wind-rich Dakotas to be included in a transmission corridor.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol