The Center for American Progress Action Fund commends the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for its timely hearing on reforming the process to plan, site, and finance the construction of new high-voltage electricity transmission lines. CAP Action is further encouraged by an important legislative proposal recently introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act, S. 539, and a draft proposal by Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). We salute their leadership in promoting the development and construction of infrastructure for a low-carbon economy.
New transmission is necessary to bring plentiful renewable energy resources from remote regions of the country to the population and industrial centers where demand is concentrated. With new investments and smart use of information technology, we can also improve the efficiency, reliability, and security of our entire national electricity infrastructure.
CAP Action supports electricity grid legislation that advances the following principles:
1. It is in our national economic and security interests to build a national transmission grid that is sustainable, reliable, and more efficient. The lack of sufficient sustainable transmission is a national problem that requires a national solution.
2. Interconnection-wide planning that coordinates the work of states and regions, and builds off existing efforts, to develop a national clean energy infrastructure to access our country’s abundant renewable energy resources.
3. Broad-based cost allocation so that no single state, region, or group of ratepayers must solely bear the cost of building a more efficient and cleaner electricity grid.
4. Consolidated siting authority that empowers the federal government to ensure needed projects are built on a timely basis, while making certain the voices and concerns of states and communities are involved in shaping these projects.
In addition, any legislation to expand and strengthen our electricity grid must include strong safeguards to build a new electricity infrastructure that is:
- Green – by expanding the share of renewable low-carbon electricity as part of the supply.
- Safe – by ensuring better monitoring, controls, and security protections.
- Fair – by including job training and standards for quality wages and benefits.
- Efficient – by incorporating state-of-the-art information technology into the grid.
Our nation faces mounting challenges to the economy and the environment. Investments in the electricity grid are a crucial step in our economic recovery and long-term competitiveness. CAP Action recognizes Senator Reid for his leadership in raising this challenge, and his proposal to address it. Sen. Bingaman and the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources should continue to address this issue.