By B.N. Frank
There are differing opinions on how to best prevent predicted blackouts in the United States. Some are blaming ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) programs for putting Americans at risk (see 1, 2). This led to new federal legislation being introduced earlier this month. Nevertheless, reports continue to indicate that there could be power outages this summer and more legislation was recently introduced to address it.
From Energy Central:
Landmark legislation could require interregional transmission in U.S.
The U.S. bill that seeks to avoid a government default will include a buffet of deals and compromises and new legislation. Buried in the bill is a significant would-be change into how the U.S. governs transmission infrastructure.
Politico is reporting that the legislation, introduced by Sen. John Hickenlooper and Rep. Scott Peters would “require regions around the country to be able to transfer electricity between their power networks during times of stress on the grid.”
The viability of this bill is still unclear, but if it passes, it would require regions to have the capacity to send up to 30% of their peak demand with neighboring regions. Currently, there is little interregional transmission. The Energy Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) operates within itself, as does the Midcontinental ISO, Western Interconnetion, Southeastern Power Pool, etc. Remember when Texas’s grid nearly collapsed during that 2021 February ice storm? Under this bill, ERCOT and the Southeastern Power Pool would have the capacity to transfer power capacity between each other, which would have lightened the grid damage that played a role in killing nearly 250 Texans. Similar to the California ISO. Instead of relying on rolling blackouts during summer heat waves, they could receive power capacity from a neighboring region.
This kind of bill would, of course, electrify further expansion of high-voltage transmission lines between regions. Although the bill is supported by Republican-leaning groups, according to Politico, it is unclear whether it will make it through what is expected to be a tense vote among the Congress’s two houses.
Christopher Neely: Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution.
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