Apr 22, 2024 - Energy & Environment

Exclusive: New Democratic transmission legislation

Illustration of an electricity pylon with a dollar sign at the top.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Two Capitol Hill Democrats want to give communities incentives to host power transmission — and hope their bill hitches a ride on wider permitting legislation.

Why it matters: Grid upgrades are needed to bring renewables to demand centers, but the maze of approvals required often ties up projects.

  • Vermont Sen. Peter Welch and New Hampshire Rep. Annie Kuster have a plan to speed things up.

What's new: The legislation — shared exclusively with Axios — would create a fund via a share of interest collected from Energy Department transmission loan programs.

  • Communities would use it for infrastructure like hospitals and schools, workforce training, and conservation.
  • The Energy and Treasury departments would determine the share of interest staking the fund for cities, counties and tribes.

What's next: Welch plans to discuss the bill with Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Joe Manchin, aides say.

  • He's hopeful it's part of bipartisan permitting legislation under discussion.

State of play: The National League of Cities and National Association of Counties support it.

  • So do recreation interests who see global warming threatening skiing and other outdoor activities.
  • Backers include REI, Burton, and the group Protect Our Winters.

The bottom line: "Expanding transmission lines is key to achieving a clean energy future and ensuring long-term welfare of communities in Vermont, New England, and across the country," Welch said.

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