(a) No public utility or any other person may begin to construct a new transmission line without first obtaining from the Commission a certificate of environmental compatibility and public convenience and necessity.
(b) A transmission line for which a certificate is required shall be constructed, operated, and maintained in conformity with the certificate. A certificate may be amended or transferred with the approval of the Commission.
(c) A certificate is not required for construction of the following lines:
(1) A line designed to carry less than 161 kilovolts;
(2) The replacement or expansion of an existing line with a similar line in substantially the same location, or the rebuilding, upgrading, modifying, modernizing, or reconstructing of an existing line for the purpose of increasing capacity or widening an existing right-of-way;
(3) A transmission line over which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has licensing jurisdiction, if the Commission determines that agency has conducted a proceeding substantially equivalent to the proceeding required by this Article;
(4) Any transmission line for which, before March 6, 1989, a public utility or other person has surveyed a proposed route and, based on that route, has acquired rights-of-way for it by voluntary conveyances or has filed condemnation proceedings for acquiring those rights-of-way which, together, involve twenty-five percent (25%) or more of the total length of the proposed route;
(5) An electric membership corporation owned transmission line for which the construction or upgrading has had a proceeding conducted which the Commission determines is substantially equivalent to the proceeding required by this Article;
(6) Any line owned by a municipality to be constructed wholly within the corporate limits of that municipality.
(d) The Commission may waive the notice and hearing requirements of this Article and issue a certificate or amend an existing certificate under either of the following circumstances:
(1) When the Commission finds that the owners of land to be crossed by the proposed transmission line segment do not object to such a waiver and either:
a. The transmission line will be less than one mile long; or
b. The transmission line is for the purpose of relocating an existing transmission line segment to resolve a highway or other public project conflict; to accommodate a commercial, industrial, or other private development conflict; or to connect an existing transmission line to a substation, to another public utility, or to a public utility customer when any of these is in proximity to the existing transmission line.
(2) If the urgency of providing electric service requires the immediate construction of the transmission line, provided that the Commission shall give notice to those parties listed in G.S. 62-102(b) before issuing a certificate or approving an amendment.
(e) When justified by the public convenience and necessity and a showing that circumstances require immediate action, the Commission may permit an applicant for a certificate to proceed with initial clearing, excavation, and construction before receiving the certificate required by this section. In so proceeding, however, the applicant acts at its own risk, and by granting such permission, the Commission does not commit to ultimately grant a certificate for the transmission line.
(f) Nothing in this section restricts or impairs the Commission's jurisdiction pursuant to G.S. 62-73 to hear or make complaints. (1991, c. 189, s. 1.)