The FASTER Act addresses key obstacles slowing down the siting, permitting, and construction of transformative electric transmission infrastructure projects
WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced the Facilitating America's Siting of Transmission and Electric Reliability (FASTER) Act. The FASTER Act addresses key obstacles slowing down the siting, planning, and permitting process.
Currently, it can take up to a decade or more to build new high-voltage, interregional transmission lines. Fragmented state, local, and federal jurisdiction over transmission siting, lack of coordination and communication between cooperating agencies, inadequate staff resources, failure to secure buy-in from local community stakeholders, and incomplete applications are among the top factors slowing down interregional transmission development.
The FASTER Act builds upon the best practices established by Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act to expedite transmission siting and permitting practices, without compromising environmental standards. It provides certainty to transmission project developers, requires meaningful engagement with private landowners, and delivers tangible economic benefits for local communities, states, and counties.
“America’s demand for clean, reliable, and affordable energy is growing. If we want to meet the full scale of this opportunity, we need to go further and faster. That does not mean greenlighting every project. It just means getting to a “yes” or a “no” in less than a decade – not a decade and a half,” said Heinrich. The FASTER Act builds on a number of best practices we’ve already learned from successful transmission projects — from simpler, coordinated agency reviews to early, meaningful local stakeholder engagement — that help to bring everybody on board in our transition to a clean energy future. This legislation is our opportunity to create good-paying jobs, meet our ambitious and urgent climate goals, and deliver affordable and reliable electricity to all Americans.”
The FASTER Act includes the following key provisions:
The FASTER Act has garnered widespread support from the power industry, construction trades labor unions, community stakeholder groups, and environmental organizations, including the National Association of Counties (NACo), the Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG), the Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA), Jobs to Move America, and Somos Un Pueblo Unido.
“Our lives and livelihoods depend on a robust and reliable electricity grid. Unfortunately, serious obstacles stand in the way of the grid we need to power a prosperous future. ACEG strongly supports Senator Heinrich’s FASTER Act, which would accelerate the buildout of much-needed transmission by requiring good faith engagement with affected landowners and communities and dramatically improving the existing permitting processes. There is no time to waste when expanding our grid. This bill will help create better systems that avoid costly and time-consuming litigation, leading to better outcomes for all Americans,” said Christina Hayes, Executive Director of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid.
“The Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA), representing more than 400 companies and organizations, would like to thank Senator Heinrich for his work on the Facilitating America’s Siting of Transmission and Electric Reliability Act of 2023 (FASTER Act of 2023),” said Bryn Baker, CEBA’s senior Director of Market and Policy Innovation. “The FASTER Act modernizes, resources, and streamlines federal permitting for transmission projects without compromising the integrity of environmental review and recognizes community engagement is critical for the development of clean, affordable, and reliable energy. CEBA encourages members of Congress to work in a collaborative, bipartisan manner to ensure any permitting reform package includes provisions that accelerate the development of transmission, increase reliability, and reduce cost for consumers."
"This bill contains strong language requiring enforceable community benefits agreements between transmission line developers and the communities they will be impacting. Community benefits agreements are a powerful tool to ensure that communities share in the rewards of big developments in their area and are a way of holding developers accountable to meeting their needs. When done correctly, as this bill encourages, they can be a win-win for all involved in the agreement,” said Miranda Nelson, National Director at Jobs to Move America.
“Community based organizations play an important role in representing low and underserved communities that are at the forefront of development projects,” said Marcela Díaz, Executive Director of Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “CBAs create a partnership that gives frontline communities an opportunity to engage with the development process while creating accountability. This bill would provide an opportunity for a substantial increase in workforce development and economic opportunities in our communities.”
“CBA’s are an opportunity for rural communities like mine in Southeastern, New Mexico, who are excluded from policy decisions that impact our communities, the local workforce, and our economy,” said Maria Romano, a Lea County Community Organizer for Somos Un Pueblo Unido. “I’m excited to see how CBA’s will ensure accountability between the community and developers. I also want to see development that is equitable and benefits all members of the community, eventually creating stronger local economies.”