Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

You won’t even need an electric car…: Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced a NOFO – “notice of funding opportunity” – last week for a Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Planning. DOT’s social/equity priorities are quite clear. Applications need to demonstrate how land use and transportation can be integrated, i.e., one trip on a bus or light-rail can take a person from home to another locale where employment, commerce, recreation, schools, health care, everything you need, are all concentrated around a transit station from which you just walk or ride your bike, or better yet just live there and then you won’t even need to take the bus in the first place. Remember: no space will be gobbled up by parking lots. FTA’s program supports the President’s “Build Back Better” effort to build modern infrastructure “and an equitable future.” Proposals must demonstrate “promotion” of increased access for environmental justice populations, equity-focused community outreach and public engagement of underserved communities and adoption of equity focused policies, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, and address “the effects of climate change.” I used to take the bus to work. Hardly seemed that dramatic. Proposals are due June 21.

* Ships without power? Does that matter? The comment period closed last week on the Coast Guard’s “Atlantic Coast Port Access Route Study: Port Approaches and International Entry and Departure Transit Areas.” Sound familiar? It should, the Atlantic PARS was completed in 2016. A top focus in this later research is on port approaches and offshore wind. (There are at least five other PARS for the Atlantic coast.) One notes the same common concerns – major concerns – from maritime and fishery interests. “It should be obvious to all parties that the introduction of in-water structures in/near an active navigation area will dramatically increase both the potential for vessel allision and vessel/vessel collision.” “Many areas subject to potential development are in areas where large vessels must transfer from heavy fuel to low-sulphur fuel, and in the event of even a temporary power loss, will be subject to immense sail-effect and sea-surface drift potential.” “A large area of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) has been leased for offshore wind development without any comprehensive analysis of the fishing industry’s need for safe transit or how the installation of large numbers of offshore structures will impact the operations of fishing vessels.” But don’t worry, all that will be offset because the ocean won’t rise as much.

* One long extension cord: Two weeks ago I noted the filing, to FERC, by a group of New York public utilities, seeking changes in payment for new transmission interconnection projects because current policies are unfair. It seems we’re all interconnected on this one. At least that’s the sense you get from looking at the two-dozen or so utility/industry groups (not counting self-interest trade groups) seeking status as intervenors. Don’t worry about filing for your own intervention, you’re probably already included, at least if you’re a ratepayer east of the Mississippi, or maybe the Rockies. Consider a filing from MISO – the Midcontinent Independent System Operator for bulk power transmission. MISO doesn’t mean one company, of course; rather it operates on behalf of 42 gazillion utilities (ok, exaggeration…) which “may be affected by whatever action the Commission takes in this proceeding,” MISO writes. Politics may be local but electricity isn’t. MISO’s membership includes utilities from the Wabash Valley, Northwestern Wisconsin, Central Minnesota,  the East Texas Electric Cooperative (I bet they’re worried…!) and dozens of others that are hundreds if not thousands of miles from New York. Seems like a long way. But then again, how fast does electricity travel?
Tom Ewing “reply” or 513-379-5526 voice/text