Monday, 14 June 2021

Utility Resilience and Reliability Act introduced in Congress; Bipartisan bill works to shore up the national energy grid

On Monday Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Rep. Doug LaMalfa (CA-01) along with Representatives Anna Eshoo (CA-18), Doris Matsui (CA-06), John Garamendi (CA-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Ro Khanna (CA-17) and Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) introduced the Utility Resilience and Reliability Act, a bipartisan bill to make the national energy grid more reliable and resilient to natural disasters and extreme weather events.

Text of the bill can be found here.

First introduced in June, the Utility Resilience and Reliability Act addresses reliability and resiliency of the national electrical grid by:

– Establishing a reliability standard, within the Federal Power Act, that addresses resiliency in regard to extreme weather events;
– Establishing a program through the Department of Energy (DOE) to advise and, be a resource for, states and local utilities on ways to improve the resiliency of their electrical grids; and
– Requiring DOE publish a report that provides recommendations on how to minimize the need for, effects of, and duration of planned electric power outages that are due to extreme weather conditions.

“The last two years, Public Safety Power Shutoffs have hit our district and our entire region hard, forcing businesses to close and leaving communities vulnerable and we cannot allow this to become routine,” said Thompson. “That’s why I’m proud to again introduce the Utility Resilience and Reliability Act which will give us the tools to shore up the national electrical grid so that not only can we better respond to these events, but also be more resilient overall. This will allow our grid to better withstand disaster and keep our communities safe.”

“Power shutoffs every time the wind blows are not the makings of a modern economy. They’re costly and an embarrassment,” said LaMalfa. “The Utility Resilience and Reliability Act will alleviate both the threat of wildfires and the power shutoffs that plague millions each year by making it easier for federal, state and local governments to work together to keep our grid operating safely and efficiently.”

“In the midst of this public health crisis and as fire season approaches, we can’t afford power outages that left our communities in the dark in past fire seasons. That’s why I’m joining my Bay Area colleagues to introduce legislation to make our electrical grid more resilient to extreme weather and provide reliable power to Californians,” said Eshoo. “This legislation ensures California’s utilities reduce the risk of wildfires without shutting off power during this already difficult time.”

“Northern California faces some of the most diverse weather and natural disaster challenges in the world, and the consequent power shutoffs of the last few years have left millions vulnerable,” said Matsui. “As we endure the remainder of this economic and public health crisis, we must make sure that utilities do the preparation necessary to minimize risk and ensure reliability for American families and businesses. With wildfire season just around the corner, it is crucial that we look at every solution to ensure safety in our power delivery. This legislation will allow us to build up the resiliency of our power grid to make sure our communities are better protected from these tragic events and minimize the impact of potential shutoffs.”

“Public Safety Power Shutoffs literally leave thousands of my constituents in the dark and at risk. With wildfire season upon us, we cannot compound the crises California communities are up against with unsustainable power shutoffs,” said Huffman. “By improving the strength and dependability of the electrical grid, this bill will make sure that utilities are doing the work to provide reliable power and keep Californians safe.”

“We have seen firsthand in Contra Costa the uncertainty and disruptions power shutoffs cause in our daily lives,” said DeSaulnier. “I am proud to join with Congressman Mike Thompson in sponsoring the Utility Resilience & Reliability Act to improve the resiliency of our nation’s electrical grid, minimize blackouts, and provide infrastructure businesses and consumers can depend upon.”

“Public safety power shutoffs put a strain on Central Coast businesses, health care providers, and households,” said Panetta. “The Utility Resilience and Reliability Act would provide the federal support our communities need to reinforce our infrastructure and ensure the lights stay on. I am proud to help introduce this legislation to make our electric grid more resilient in the face of extreme weather events and wildfires while providing reliable power.”

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