The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission began a process for setting rules for siting transmission lines June 15. Commissioners, however, repeatedly reassured state governments that the process is not meant to override their authority. It is only supposed to be used as a "backstop" if states forgo transmission line siting. "There's no reason why [states] should feel concerned [we're] taking away their authority," said commissioner Suedeen Kelly. Commission chair Joe Kelliher added that it is intended to supplement the state's role. FERC's proposal includes plans to act on transmission siting if a state takes longer than a year for its own approval process - something California has been known to do. It also proposes to use its authority if a state "imposes conditions on a proposal such that it will not significantly reduce transmission congestion or it is not economically feasible." The California Public Utilities Commission, and other stakeholders, have two months to respond to the proposal, said CPUC attorney Harvey Morris. He added that he had yet to see the proposal at press time and was not prepared to comment. The CPUC asserts the state's power to site new transmission lines. However, that authority has been challenged in the past couple of years by the California Energy Commission - though to no avail as of yet. FERC was given the authority for transmission siting as a backstop through the Energy Policy Act of 2005. At the same time, the Department of Energy is mapping out federal transmission corridors for preference in siting using sovereign powers (see story at page 12). Kelliher said the commission intends to finalize its rules by the time the Department of Energy designates its transmission corridors.