U.S. Rep. Quigley, U.S. Sen. Whitehouse legislation aims to prepare infrastructure for cheap, renewable energy

Published on September 30, 2020 by Chris Galford

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New legislation from U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) and U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) — the Advanced Energy Technologies and Grid Efficiency Act — proposes preparing the nation’s power grids to deliver cheap, clean energy and close roadblocks in the existing electric grid.

The pair argue that billions of dollars in investment is needed to modernize an aging energy grid and ready it to host a changing energy mix. Incentive programs will play an important part in any transition, though, along with the coordination of grid operators, utilities, state and federal officials to update rules and structures accordingly. This bill would improve power system modeling and grid operator planning, commission grid efficiency studies, and update the connectivity of the transmission system.

“If we want our nation to be ready for the coming clean energy future, we must begin the critical work of preparing our electric grid now,” Quigley said. “My legislation will establish a new, advanced energy technology research initiative at FERC to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders and industry leaders to lay this necessary groundwork.”

The Advanced Energy Technologies and Grid Efficiency Act will also solicit funding for upgrades to electricity delivery infrastructure and determine if federal regulators have the authority needed to manage the siting of the transmission lines required for clean energy expansions.

“While advancements in technology have made clean energy cheaper and more reliable than ever, that energy is only useful if it can actually make it onto the grid,” Whitehouse said. “The vast majority of the electric grid was designed for large power generators. Upgrading our creaky grid infrastructure will lay the foundation for powering homes and businesses in every corner of the country with green, pollution-free energy.”

Notably, many of the provisions within this act were also included in the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which the House of Representatives advanced last week. The legislation has gained the support of organizations such as Advanced Energy Economy, Sunrun, National Grid, NRDC, Exelon, and the WATT Coalition.