EEI, industry groups applaud Senate for passage of infrastructure bill

Published on August 11, 2021 by Dave Kovaleski

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The U.S. Senate’s passage of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill this week has drawn praise from various industry groups, including the Edison Electric Institute (EEI).

“On behalf of America’s investor-owned electric companies, EEI applauds the Senate for passing a broad, bipartisan infrastructure bill that would make significant investments in the critical energy infrastructure and new carbon-free technologies we need to deliver a 100-percent clean energy future to the customers and communities we serve,” EEI President Tom Kuhn said. “Achieving this will require new, affordable, 24/7, carbon-free technologies, and this legislation significantly would boost research, development, demonstration, and deployment funding for these new clean energy technologies.

Kuhn also said that this bill would provide much-needed investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure as well as low or no emissions busses. Further, it would provide new opportunities for electric companies to leverage their fiber investments to provide middle-mile broadband infrastructure.

The Alliance to Save Energy also backs the Senate passage of the bill.

“The package is historic in its demonstration of bipartisanship and in its commitment to energy efficiency. The Alliance thanks the Senate and White House for their resolute leadership in getting us to this point, including provisions that will advance nationwide building, industrial, and transportation efficiency,” ASE President Paula Glover said.

Glover pointed out that the bill contains several important energy-related investments, including $3.5 billion for the Weatherization Assistance Program; $65 billion for grid modernization; $7.5 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure; $7.5 billion for low to zero emissions busses and ferries; $65 billion for expanding broadband access; $500 million for K-12 public schools to implement efficiency projects; and $550 million for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, among other investments.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) also commended the Senate for passing the bill.

“This bipartisan proposal is a meaningful first step and carries significant benefits for rural families and businesses, particularly those who lack access to high-speed broadband,” NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said. “We commend the senators from both sides of the aisle who worked together on this compromise, and we applaud their commitment to the bipartisan pursuit of solutions. As policymakers plan for a future that depends on electricity as the primary energy source for much of the economy, more work will be needed to build on this infrastructure down payment.”

Matheson added that electric co-ops will continue pushing for the financial flexibility to refinance existing government loans at low-interest rates and the eligibility for direct pay tax credits to boost electric co-op investments in renewables and other energy technologies. These are both necessary tools for co-ops as they navigate the ongoing energy transition.

Other groups supporting the bill include American Rivers, National Hydropower Association, Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Hydropower Reform Coalition, American Whitewater, American Society of Civil Engineers, World Wildlife Fund, Low Impact Hydropower Institute, and The Nature Conservancy.

“Passage of the infrastructure bill represents a vital down payment to bring our nation’s dams into the 21st century, and we applaud the Senate’s bipartisan leadership. Dams are critical infrastructure, and we encourage the U.S. House to move swiftly to pass this bill to revitalize river ecosystems, improve public safety and enhance hydropower’s ability to optimize generation efficiency and output,” the organizations stated in a joint statement. “We urge Congress make this bill a priority, as it will greatly contribute to climate resilience and stronger, safer communities.”