South Dakota Public Utilities Commissioners are opposing federal legislation proposing to take away states’ authority for regulating the location of electric transmission lines.
The commissioners say the legislation in question was proposed by Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and may be attached to a continuing resolution, designed to fund the federal government in the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, 2022.
“The Manchin legislation would federalize the process to site electric transmission lines – eliminating all state authority over the siting of electric transmission projects found by the Secretary of Energy to be ‘national interest facilities’ and abolishing or significantly reducing the protections state law currently provides for landowners and citizens in the area,” explained PUC Chairman Chris Nelson.
“The current PUC permitting process, established through state law, is meant to protect South Dakota landowners, citizens, and the environment of our state,” said PUC Vice Chairperson Kristie Fiegen. “That process allows PUC staff to work with landowners and transmission developers to find solutions that work for everyone involved. A federal take-over of transmission siting would effectively eliminate the ability of South Dakota landowners to have a voice in siting that affects their property,” Fiegen stated.
“As PUC commissioners, we take our role in protecting South Dakotans very seriously and believe a siting process that is easily accessible for landowners to participate in is essential to our ability to do that well. No South Dakota landowner should have to go to Washington to voice their concerns when a very workable process currently exists at the state level,” declared Commissioner Gary Hanson.