WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Thursday declared two swaths of the country critical to the nation’s electricity grid, hoping to spur construction of major power lines in Southern California and the mid-Atlantic states. The Department of Energy proposed two “national interest electric transmission corridors,” the first of their kind under a 2005 law designed to relieve bottlenecks in the electricity grid, according to a notice sent to lawmakers Thursday. The proposed Southwest Area National Corridor is composed of Imperial, Kern, Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties in California; La Paz, Maricopa and Yuma counties in Arizona; and Clark County in Nevada. The mid-Atlantic corridor would run north from Virginia and Washington, D.C., and include most of Maryland, all of New Jersey and Delaware, and large swaths of New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The proposed corridors were announced a day after some House Democrats criticized the 2005 law’s possible effects. The law gave the federal government greater say on where high-priority transmission lines should be built. If states and regional groups fail to build such lines, the federal government could order them built. Concerns about congestion in the electrical grid were heightened after a major blackout swept from Ohio to Canada and New York City. But local representatives fighting proposed towers in their communities were incensed by the announcement. “The federal government is continuing to try to usurp state authority and override the Constitution,” said Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-N.Y., who is fighting a proposed transmission line through his upstate district. Authorities will hold public meetings on the corridors in San Diego, Arlington, Va., and New York City. Once the 60-day comment period ends, the law calls for state regulators to try to strike an agreement on where new lines should be built. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!