On May 14, 2015, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on multiple bills intended to boost investments in America’s electric infrastructure, investments that are desperately needed. In its most recent scorecard, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the United States a D+ grade for its energy infrastructure, citing an aging grid and permitting and siting issues.8
NEMA members make the products that make the grid more resilient, reliable, efficient, and that integrate renewable energy resources. These technologies exist, but there are barriers preventing us from more rapidly deploying them and modernizing the electric grid.
NEMA is supportive of many of the bills that will be considered at Thursday’s hearing, but there are two bills in particular that would clearly benefit the nation by streamlining the process of siting, permitting, and building needed transmission infrastructure:
- S.1017, To amend the Federal Power Act to improve the siting of interstate electric transmission facilities, and for other purposes
Introduced by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), this bill would provide the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the authority to site interstate transmission lines in certain instances where states do not approve or reject high-priority transmission lines. The bill would also designate FERC as the lead coordinating agency for federal permitting and review processes.
- S.1217, A bill to establish an Interagency Rapid Response Team for Transmission, to establish an Office of Transmission Ombudsperson, and for other purposes
Introduced by Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), this bill would establish an Interagency Rapid Response Team to streamline and enhance the transparency of the federal transmission permitting process. It would also create a Transmission Ombudsperson position within the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to resolve issues and bring accountability to the process. The bill would also ensure that federal entities are allowed to construct and maintain electric transmission projects on existing rights-of-way without additional federal requirements.
In order to rebuild and modernize America’s aging electric infrastructure, Congress must lead by enacting energy infrastructure legislation without delay. NEMA thanks the many members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for their commitment to improving the reliability, resiliency, and efficiency of America’s electric grid, and we look forward to working with Congress to pass these bills.