Energy, Environment

Department of Energy report identifies local corridors to boost power grid reliability

MORGANTOWN – As part of a national power grid assessment, the U.S. Department of Energy has identified the mid-Atlantic region – including Monongalia, Preston and Marion counties – as an area where “there is significant need for increased within-region transmission capacity in PJM to maintain and improve reliability and resilience, lower consumer costs, and meet future generation and demand growth.”

The DOE’s National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor Phase 2 report – issued last month – proposes for the mid-Atlantic a number of parallel corridor sections, about 2 miles wide and up to 180 miles long, where transmission and generation could be beefed up to increase resiliency and reliability and meet growing future demand. The report shows five corridor portions passing through or immediately adjacent to the local three-county area.

The May announcement initiated Phase 2 of DOE’s NIETC process. A NIETC, DOE explains, “is a geographic area where, based on its triennial National Transmission Needs Study or other relevant information, DOE has identified present or expected transmission capacity constraints or congestion that adversely affects consumers, and that has been designated by the Secretary of Energy as a NIETC.”

DOE says one or more transmission projects could be located within a NIETC to alleviate the constraints or congestion. “NIETC designation enables DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to use valuable federal financing and permitting tools to spur construction of transmission projects within a NIETC.”

The report looks at 10 regions across the country. The mid-Atlantic corridors run from Marshall County in the west to Loudon County, Va., (near Washington, D.C.) in the east. One reaches up to Greene County, Pa.. Southern corridors cross Tucker, Grant and Hampshire; and the easternmost corridors cross Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

DOE draws on PJM load forecasts and its own Needs Assessment for its recommendations. It notes that PJM – the 13-state regional transmission organization – points out the need for additional transmission to address reliability criteria violations in the face of load growth and further (coal-fired) power plant retirements.

While this area would be responsible for sending out power, the report says that much of the increased demand derives from data center proliferation and green-minded electrification efforts. The Dominion Energy zone in northern Virginia is driving much of the increase.

DOE says, “The Needs Study finds reliability risks in the PJM footprint may arise in the near term through 2030 largely due to electricity demand growth, resource retirements, and increases in intermittent and limited duration resource interconnection requests.”

The study also demonstrated the need for access to cost-effective generation resources. Eastern Maryland and Virginia have experienced persistently high wholesale market prices in recent years. “Additional transmission to bring cost-effective resources to demand would help reduce these wholesale prices, ultimately lowering congestion and reducing costs for consumers.”

The Dominion Post has reached out to PJM and FirstEnergy for comments on the report for presentation in a future story.

What’s next

NIETC Phase 1 began in December 2023. Phase 2 in May initiated a public comment period that runs through June 24.

DOE will then prioritize which potential NIETCs move to Phase 3, based on geographic boundaries and potential impacts on environmental, community, and other resources and preliminary review of comments. Phase 4 will be the conclusion of the NIETC designation process with DOE’s issuance of final NIETC designation reports.

“The potential NIETCs included in the preliminary list,” DOE says, “focus on geographic areas where present or expected transmission capacity constraints or congestion that adversely affects consumers could be alleviated by the construction of new or upgraded transmission lines.” In most cases, the potential NIETCs include one or more potential transmission projects in some stage of development where a NIETC designation could help advance development of those projects.

DOE cautions that it should not be interpreted that areas outside the 10 NIETC regions don’t need transmission development – this is simply a first step. And the NIETC areas already proposed are subject to change.

The full 74-page NIETC report can be found at: PreliminaryListPotentialNIETCsPublicRelease.pdf (

Public comments can be submitted by 5 p.m. June 24 via email to