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Newsom Vetoes Bills Intended to Expedite Power Line Approvals
Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed two bills that were intended to expedite the construction of electricity transmission lines in California. SB 420 would have exempted the construction of a new lower-voltage electrical transmission lines and associated equipment from discretionary permits from the California Public Utilities Commission, and SB 619 would have allowed certain higher voltage transmission lines to be eligible for priority applications with the California Energy Commission (CEC) for environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). (See Bills to Expedite Power Line Approvals Introduced.)
For both bills, Newsom said he agreed with the author’s intent to expedite development of electric transmission projects, but that the changes would slow down or complicated the process further.
In his veto message for SB 420, Newsom said the bill “compounds existing permitting complexity for these projects by devolving permitting authority of mid-sized electric transmission projects from a single state agency to local agencies.”
In his veto message for SB 619, Newsom said “decentralizing permitting between two agencies creates new coordination challenges, requires duplicative staffing, disrupts the sequencing of permitting workstreams and impedes the ability of either agency to consider the full scope of an electric transmission project.”
The bill were promoted as a key step in the massive investment in new long-distance transmissions lines that is needed to upgrade the state’s power grid and meet the state’s goal of 100% renewable energy by 2045. (see California Implements More Ambitious Climate Agenda.)