House Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on barriers to modernizing the electric grid

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) released the following statement in reaction to today’s Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing, entitled "The American Energy Initiative," focusing on the three biggest barriers to achieving a grid needed to support the nation’s future energy needs: federal siting, cost allocation, and transmission planning for power lines:

"The hearing today demonstrates that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has shown great leadership in reforming the policies for planning and paying for needed power lines," said Tom Vinson, AWEA senior director of federal regulatory affairs.

"These lines are needed for more than integrating renewable energy. They’re necessary to improve reliability and provide consumers with access to lower priced power. FERC’s new policies should help unlock investment in our aging power grid by ensuring that those who benefit from the lines pay for them, and conversely, those who do not benefit, do not pay.

"In stark contrast, the policies suggested by opponents with an economic interest in maintaining a constrained grid would so narrowly define who benefits and who pays as to ensure many get a free ride. That approach has been tried for decades and clearly has failed to provide the grid our nation needs," Vinson said.

AWEA Senior Vice President for Public Policy Rob Gramlich added, "While FERC has done an admirable job of striking the right balance with respect to how transmission lines will be planned and paid for, the siting of transmission projects remains a large hurdle for modernizing the grid and in need of reform.

"There still remains no viable federal siting authority for large-scale, multi-state lines, and as a result, a single state can block lines that advance the country’s energy needs," Gramlich said.

"We therefore encourage Congress to consider giving FERC authority to site electric transmission infrastructure, along the successful model it has for gas lines.

"Until that time, FERC, DOE and other agencies should, within their existing authority, engage in enhanced cooperation to help achieve the goal of ensuring a modernized electric grid gets built that will allow this country compete in the global economy, as well as lowering costs for consumers and advancing environmental goals."