WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) today met with U.S. Secretary of Energy, Samuel Bodman to discuss his opposition to the designation of 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties as part of the National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor (NIETC). During the meeting, Senator Casey reiterated his appeal to the Secretary to fully involve state and local communities in the siting and alignment of necessary power lines.
In the meeting, Senator Casey asked Secretary Bodman to consider all options for
increasing reliability. Senator Casey emphasised that there are multiple ways to
provide reliable electricity, such as electric load management and SmartGrid
technology, and that new transmission towers should only be constructed as a last resort.
Senator Casey also expressed his disappointment with the DOE’s designating 75% of
Pennsylvania part of the corridor. Pennsylvania is a power exporter, generating
Electricity for much of the Northeast. Senator Casey raised that point to Secretary
Bodman, about how much reliability can Pennsylvania shoulder alone?
Finally, Senator Casey asked Secretary Bodman to increase public outreach. As of now he DOE has only held one public meeting in Pittsburgh. “The corridor designation could ave a significant impact on Pennsylvania communities,” said Casey. It is my hope that n future years the DOE will hold public meetings in locations that are easily accessible by people living in the affected communities.”
Much of Pennsylvania’s rural regions were included in the Department of Energy’s NIETC designation. Once this corridor is finalized, authority would as a practical matter reside with the federal government, and power companies could effectively circumvent state and local government. Senator Casey believes that because of the significant impact this could have on rural communities and farmers, the placing of the towers should be done in coordination with their local communities and state government.
During the markup of the 2007 Farm Bill, Senator Casey introduced an amendment that would have prohibited the use of eminent domain in placing electric transmission towers on vital agriculture lands.
Senator Casey has written two letters to Bodman, expressing his opposition to the Department of Energy’s final decision to build the (NIETC) through 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties.
In October Senator Casey met Assistant Secretary of Energy Kevin Kolevar to discuss the corridor. Senator Casey also currently has a hold on the re-nomination of Joseph Kelliher, chairman of the Federal Regular Energy Committee, a key figure involved with developing the corridor.