American states speeding up power-plant approvals

Determined to avoid California's vast and costly energy mistakes, lawmakers in a number of other states are making it easier for energy companies to build new power plants. Not only are they speeding up approvals, in some cases they are exempting plants from any review at all.

  • Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon and Washington are among the states that are changing regulations and revising rules aimed at swift approvals of permits.

  • Some states that have embraced deregulation, such as Illinois and Texas, are experiencing a power-plant building boom.

  • And even California has moved to accelerate plant sitings by creating special four-month and 21-day permitting processes that could help meet demand this summer and next.

  • In addition to adjusting regulations, at least four states – Illinois, Kansas, Montana and Washington – have enacted tax breaks for new power plants over the past few months.

    While environmentalists object to the swifter timetables, lawmakers respond that they are just redressing an imbalance that makes it more difficult to build new plants.

    State officials contend that some of the amended laws could make it easier to build new gas-fired plants -- which could replace older and dirtier coal- or oil-based generators.

    Sources: Andrew Caffrey, States Encourage Electric Utilities to Build Plants, and Robert Gavin, States Lure Plants with Tax Breaks, both in Wall Street Journal, June 27, 2001.

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    FMF\3 July 2001
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