Reps. Kelly, Deluzio introduce bill to implement new energy efficiency standards for transformers

Published on February 06, 2024 by Dave Kovaleski

© Shutterstock

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) introduced legislation in the House that sets new energy efficiency standards for transformers.

The Distribution Transformer Efficiency & Supply Chain Reliability Act of 2024 (H.R. 7171) would prevent the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) rule from taking effect that mandates the use of amorphous metal (AM) cores instead of Grain-Oriented Electrical Steel (GOES) cores. GOES cores are used in electrical distribution transformers across the country. The bill would create new standards that increase the energy efficiency of distribution transformers at levels that preserve market opportunities for GOES as well as amorphous steel.

“This rule would severely limit the ability of our utility providers to ensure grid reliability and security while making us dependent on foreign imports of amorphous metal. Grid security and reliability are vital to our economic and national security,” Kelly said. “The Department of Energy’s misguided policy would jeopardize electricity for millions of Americans. This new legislation takes the necessary next steps to strengthen our electrical grid while also protecting American national security and economic interests.”

Currently, there is only one facility in the United States producing GOES, located in Butler, Pa. Implementation of this proposed rule would jeopardize the Butler facility and leave the U.S. electrical grid reliant on imports and potentially cost over 1,500 American jobs. Amorphous metal cores rely on imports of raw materials; a dependency that could leave Americans susceptible to a variety of disruptions, from production to shipping.

The proposed rule comes when the supply chain constraint for distribution transformers has grown significantly, with demand exceeding current rates of production. Ultimately, the bill is designed to stabilize domestic transformer manufacturing to meet increasing demand without exacerbating existing supply chains or undermining American steel production.

“There’s only one GOES producer left in the U.S., and they are right here in Western Pennsylvania,” Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-PA), one of the bill’s cosponsors, said. “This bill works to ensure this plant and its union workers don’t get choked out by severe standards imposed by the Department of Energy. As we continue to electrify our grid and move into a clean energy future, we’re going to need to beef up the grid – and the best way to do that is with American-made electrical steel.”

Along with Kelly and Deluzio, the bill is sponsored by U.S. Reps. Dan Meuser (R-PA), Susan Wild (D-PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).

The bill is supported by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, Edison Electric Institute, National Association of Home Builders, Leading Builders of America, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW) Local 3303, UAW Local 4104, and Cleveland-Cliffs Inc.

A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH).