We need to build cleaner, faster. Clean energy and grid modernization present tremendous economic opportunities, but burdensome and outdated regulations mean that new projects take five years on average to come online.
We have to move faster by enacting common sense reforms to the permitting process.
Upgraded transmission and new energy projects all start with a permit
Why do we need to build cleaner faster?
The largest construction effort in U.S. history. Any transition to a clean energy economy will require thousands of new power plants to connect to the grid at an unprecedented pace and scale. However, the current process is so dysfunctional that only 23% of projects reach commercial operation and wait an average of 3.7 years to advance through the queue. Failure to address the current interconnection process at scale will limit the ability to reduce missions affordably and could hurt grid reliability.
Unprecedented Queue Volumes Needed for Net-Zero Build Rates
All Queued Up and Nowhere to Go (ClearPath, 2022)
Modernize the permitting process. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has a key role to play in enabling the transformation of clean energy delivery through the additional deployment of nuclear technologies. Our nuclear energy muscles were beginning to atrophy, but the technology is making a roaring comeback. We can be thorough and cut approval periods by more than half.
Challenge: It takes 5 years on average to site a solar field, a wind farm or a natural gas plant with CCS.
Solution: Fast-Track Certain Locations. Pre-approving areas such as brownfield sites, former military bases, and existing power or industrial facilities for the siting of low-carbon projects should be granted automatic permits so long as they comply with other laws.
Challenge: The current permitting process doesn’t prioritize clean energy.
Solution: Speed up reviews of clean energy projects with well-known impacts. Other classes of projects may be really good for reducing emissions but still have some local environmental impacts to consider. These projects should go to the front of the permitting line, and benefit from accelerated decision timelines to get to a “yes” or “no” decision within 2 years.
Challenge: Litigation bogs down the system and slows progress, imperiling our ability to build at the needed pace.
Solution: Limit legal action to under one year. The lawsuits often come with permitting disputes that can delay timelines, sometimes by over a decade. This makes building many clean energy projects virtually impossible. We can also greatly accelerate legal reviews with fast timelines, like in the Department of Defense, and by sending cases straight to higher courts for final decisions.