Interior Defends Financials in Transmission Expansion

By Published On: March 4, 2011

Under budget duress from Congress, Department of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said the agency is looking at “creating foundational” transmission lines for renewable energy, with an eye on the West. Salazar was the sole witness for a March 2 Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources hearing on Interior’s upcoming budget. Senators probed the secretary about the future of projects in their states, like wind facilities in North Dakota. Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) worried about wind turbine projects set for development on tribal lands, for instance. In general, all Salazar could say was that projects supported by Interior funding would be impacted if the proposed House budget slashes are implemented. Interior’s goal of 10,000 MW of renewable energy projects would be in question, Salazar said. Projects in jeopardy include the offshore Tillamook wind project in Oregon that could send renewable electricity to California. Salazar also cited the agency’s designation of transmission corridors on federal lands to facilitate bringing alternative resources to load centers as a reason to keep funds flowing to the agency. On Feb. 1 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Interior failed to properly consult California and other states for those corridors’ environmental impact.

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