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DOE Hearing Thursday on National Grid Corridor Proposal

The Department of Energy has proposed two electricity corridors -- one in our region. The proposals would allow federal power to trump local land use decisions. One of seven public hearings on the pro

DOE Hearing Thursday on National Grid Corridor Proposal

The Department of Energy has proposed two electricity corridors -- one in our region. The proposals would allow federal power to trump local land use decisions. One of seven public hearings on the proposal is tomorrow in downtown San Diego. KPBS environmental reporter Ed Joyce has details.

The Southwest Area National Corridor covers most of Southern California, part of southern Nevada and southwestern Arizona. The Department of Energy says the two corridors are in areas where there are electricity bottlenecks or congestion.

The Department of Energy's Kevin Kolaver oversees the corridor study.

Kolaver : There needed to be some actions taken to try and level the playing field so that new transmission could be a realistic option. And that the inability to build new transmission didn't lead to blackouts, brownouts, or an over reliance on new generation very close to urban population centers.

The corridor designation would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the power to approve grid projects if local authorities reject them. Opponents say the proposal gives the federal government an end run around local and state control. Dave Hamilton oversees the Sierra Club's Energy and Global Warming Program.

Hamilton : I think it was put into the energy bill of 2005 to break what has traditionally been a heavy resistance by local entities to building new powerline right of ways and facilities across their home territory.

Under the corridor designation, developers of energy projects could appeal to FERC if local officials reject their plans. A FERC permit would give developers eminent domain powers to acquire property rights to build transmission projects. The meeting starts at 10 tomorrow morning at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.