Washington, D.C. – The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) today unveiled a new report, developed under its Electric Grid Initiative, which is co-chaired by former Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), former FERC Chairman Curt Hébert, and Allison Clements, Director of the Sustainable FERC Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Two important trends are leading policymakers to reevaluate how we can strengthen and modernize the electric grid. First, the public has an increased interest in making certain our electricity system is reliable and resilient after experiencing blackouts and weather-related outages in several parts of the country. These electricity outages represent a huge cost to the U.S. economy and raise a variety of safety and security issues. Second, the mix of electricity generation is changing in response to energy market conditions and to state and federal energy or environmental policies. Not only has growth in natural gas generation has been sizable, but there has also been an increase in electricity from renewable energy sources. These resources provide many benefits, but also create challenges for an electric system infrastructure that was built for more traditional types of electric power technologies.
In light of these developments, BPC convened the Electric Grid Initiative – a mix of some of the nation’s top experts on electric grid issues, including representatives from power companies, NGOs, academia, states, and regional transmission organizations. The Initiative developed recommendations in four broad policy areas: (1) encouraging efficient transmission and distribution investment, (2) advancing planning and operational coordination across jurisdictions, (3) enabling a more flexible and resilient system, and (4) monitoring and enhancing operational reliability.
“The time is now to start addressing these issues,” said former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Curt Hébert. “Outages are estimated to cost businesses roughly $79 billion each year in the United States. It makes good economic sense to responsibly invest now, so as to minimize the financial damages that result from outages. Going forward, sustainable investment in needed electric grid infrastructure will be critical to a robust U.S. economy.”
“Fortunately, it’s a win for both the environment and grid reliability when we increase opportunities for demand-side resources and a variety of advanced grid technologies,” noted Allison Clements, Director of the Sustainable FERC Project at Natural Resources Defense Council. “Innovative businesses are being created as a result of some of these new technologies.”
“I know firsthand how challenging it is to make progress in our partisan political environment. But I believe this report provides recommendations that policymakers from both parties can support. It is balanced, fair and was carefully negotiated over the period of more than a year,” said former U.S. Congressman Rick Boucher.
“We are grateful for the hard work of the Initiative’s task force members and co-chairs for leading this timely effort,” said BPC President Jason S. Grumet. We hope to keep the dialogue going with policymakers and stakeholders in the weeks and months to come.”