If It’s Broke, Fix It: Federal Regulation of Electrical Interstate Transmission Lines
Elena P. Vekilov   |   2013 U. Ill. L. Rev. 695
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The current electrical transmission line regulatory system is broken,
preventing the nation from expanding the electricity grid to keep
up with growing energy consumption. The current regulatory scheme
reserves to the states siting authority over where new lines are constructed,
which often hinders project development because interstate
lines are not seen as good for the state’s own citizens. Natural gas
does not suffer the same infirmity, because it has been under federal
control since the Natural Gas Act of 1938. This Note traces the history
of the regulation of the two energy delivery systems—beginning
with local control over local utilities early in their development—to
today’s complex interstate systems. Then this Note analyzes three
possible regulatory approaches: (1) state control; (2) an intermediate
solution that retains state power to regulate line siting from each
state’s internal energy sources to its internal load centers, but allocates
to the federal government the power to construct interstate lines from
plentiful energy sources to distant load centers; and (3) a federal system
mirroring the system for siting natural gas pipelines. Finally, this
Note concludes that only a federal regulatory system modeled on the
natural gas pipeline regulations is adequate to keep up with growing
energy demand.