The Department of Energy designated a transmission corridor for the Southwestern U.S. in its attempt to alleviate serious congestion that includes most of Southern California, as well as the southwest corner of Arizona. Excluded from the final route was Clark County and its biggest city, Las Vegas. \u201c[T]he Department of Energy officially has confirmed what we\u2019ve known for years- that our region has a critical shortage of electric transmission infrastructure,\u201d stated Michael Niggli, San Diego Gas & Electric chief operating officer. The utility hopes the designation will advance its Powerlink project, a 150-mile long high voltage line that runs from the Imperial Valley through the San Diego Basin (see story above). The federal designation released October 2 includes Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties. It excludes Santa Barbara and Ventura counties. Included in the new corridor are three counties in Southwest Arizona. The determination is effective for 12 years. Under the 2005 Energy Policy Act, federal regulators were authorized to determine regional transmission routes and override state interests if it the state fails to act on a transmission proposal within a year. The DOE essentially reaffirmed FERC backstop authority with its designation this week. \u201cThe goal is simple--to keep reliable supplies of electric energy flowing to all Americans,\u201d Samuel Bodman, DOE secretary, stated. The department also designated a corridor for the Mid-Atlantic region, which includes counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, all of New Jersey, Delaware and the District of Columbia. \u201cDesignations of National Corridors confirms that we must tackle our nation\u2019s energy issues on multiple fronts with multiple pathways,\u201d said Assistant DOE secretary Kevin Kolevar. The federal government released a draft map outlining the energy corridors across 11 western states in June 2006. Finality of the routes allows energy companies to build power lines and oil, gas and hydrogen pipelines in the designated corridors. The Southwest docket # is 2007-OE-02.