Power to the People: Why We Need Full Federal Preemption of Electrical Transmission Regulation

State and federal governments have made significant investments in the development and installation of renewable energy technology. However, further increases in renewable power use have been stymied by the continued mismatch between the national interest in connecting consumers with utility-scale wind and solar installations and state and local control over the siting of electrical transmission lines. Because renewable power potential is often located far from consumers, transmission lines must cross multiple jurisdictions whose local interests have tended to prevent or significantly delay development. This Note analyzes that disconnect, reviews academic and legislative proposals to overcome it, and proposes a way for the federal government to preempt the states in order to streamline construction of the needed infrastructure while maintaining consideration of local concerns and advancing the overarching policy goal of shifting the electrical grid towards renewable power.