WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Jeffords, I – Vt., today introduced legislation to ensure the reliable delivery of electric power in the United States. The “Electric Reliability Security Act of 2003” will promote reliability and security of the electricity grid in an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sound manner. The “Electric Reliability Security Act of 2003” will: · Create mandatory uniform federal rules requiring that utilities operating power systems ensure reliable delivery of power; · Provide $10 billion in loan guarantees to invest in and modernize small scale transmission and distribution systems; . Establish national standards for “net-metering” to allow small-scale alternative energy sources, such as home windmills and extra power generated by manufacturing facilities, to be sold back to the grid and provide additional power; · Create a federal matching program for state public benefits fund to maintain emergency power connections for low-income households, energy efficiency programs for residential and business customers, and pilot programs to promote renewable energy; · Establish a national “Electricity Outage Investigation Board” to investigate the causes of and solutions for power outages; . Mandate regional coordination in the siting of transmission facilities; · Create a national electricity efficiency performance standard requiring utilities to enact consumer programs to reduce power demand and total consumer electricity use. Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee said, "This summer’s massive blackout exposed a vulnerable, patchwork system governing the poles and wires that move our electricity. We need to address this vital and complex system in a comprehensive and coordinated manner. Instead of first building new power plants and more power lines, we should first look to better organize and better utilize existing system resources. The blackout wasn't caused by a lack of electricity; what we had there, for the most part, was a failure to communicate." U.S. Sens. Edward Kennedy, D – Mass., and Maria Cantwell, D – Wash., are cosponsors of the legislation. The bill has been endorsed by the Alliance to Save Energy, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, and Public Citizen. The following is a section-by-section analysis of the legislation: TITLE I - Reliability - Sec. 101: establishes mandatory reliability, language from Senate-passed (Bingaman) bill - Sec. 102: creates model code for electric utility workers to ensure grid safety and reliability training - Sec. 103: authorize establishment of interstate compacts for coordinated regional transmission siting – does not require RTOs - Sec. 104: creates an “Electricity Outage Investigation Board” to investigate causes and solutions for outages - Sec. 105: requires the National Academy of Sciences to compare the effectiveness on reliability of efficiency, on-site generation,“smart-grid” technology and grid expansion TITLE II - Efficiency - Sec. 201: establishes a system benefits fund (a nationwide wires charge used to fund matching state programs for efficiency and renewable energy) - Sec. 202: establishes an electricity efficiency performance standard mandating utilities to enact consumer programs to reduce power demand and total consumer electricity use - Sec. 203: requires DOE to finish air conditioner efficiency rules by January, 2007 - Sec. 204: establishes a $10 billion loan guarantee program for efficiency, distributed generation and smart-grid technology TITLE III - On-site generation -Sec. 301: establishes mandatory net metering (requires utilities to provide customer net metering service) - Sec. 302: establishes mandatory interconnection standards (requires transmission and distribution utilities to allow on-site generators to connect into the grid) - Sec. 303: creates a $30 million pilot program to create uninterruptible power systems for local communications systems (air traffic control, police, fire, public water and sewer) Floor Statement of Senator Jim Jeffords
The Electric Reliability Security Act of 2003 Mr. JEFFORDS. Mr. President, today I am introducing comprehensive legislation to ensure the reliable delivery of electric power in the United States. I am pleased have the Senior Senator from Massachusetts (MR. KENNEDY) and the Senator from Washington (Ms. CANTWELL) join me as original cosponsors of this bill. This past August, nearly 50 million people in the Northeast and Midwest were affected by a massive power outage. Hurricane Isabel and other weather systems left millions more without power. These events emphasize the vulnerability of the U.S. electricity grid to human error, mechanical failure, and weather-related outages. Unfortunately, the electricity provisions now being considered in the on-going energy bill conference were written well before these recent events. The pending energy bill fails to do all that is necessary to protect the grid from devastating interruptions in the future. That is why I am introducing this bill today to ensure greater reliability in our electricity delivery system. My bill, the Electric Reliability Security Act of 2003, will help achieve reliability and security of the electricity grid in an efficient, cost-effective, and environmentally sound manner. It does so by creating mandatory, nationwide electric reliability standards. The bill also mandates regional coordination in the siting of transmission facilities, and provides $10 billion dollars in loan guarantees to finance Asmart grid@ technologies that improve the way the grid transmits power. While a $10 billion dollar investment may seem to be a large investment, Mr. President, it is significantly less than the transmission cost estimates that have circulated following the Northeast blackout. In response to the events this past August, industry experts estimated that it would cost consumers as much as $100 billion dollars to upgrade transmission systems and site new lines to meet future reliability needs. However, even this hefty price tag does not factor in the costs of additional generation, does not consider the rising cost of natural gas due to increasing electricity consumption, and does not include the environmental and other social costs of continued expansion of our presently centralized power system. Power lines are expensive and are rarely welcomed by the nearby public. The loan guarantees in the bill will help balance the need for new transmission lines by providing federal resources to help improve existing ones. In addition to addressing system operation and transmission needs, the bill also promotes sound system management. It establishes a federal system benefits fund as a match for state programs. Historically, regulated electric utility companies have provided a number of energy related public services beyond simply supplying electricity that benefit the system as a whole. Such services have included bill payment assistance and energy conservation measures for low income households, energy efficiency programs for residential and business customers, and pilot programs to promote renewable energy resources. More than 20 states, including my home state of Vermont, have public benefits programs. This bill will provide needed federal matching money to states for these programs. The Alliance to Save Energy estimates that a federal program to match existing state public benefits programs would save 1.24 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity over 20 years, and cut consumer energy bills by about $100 billion dollars. Mr. President, my bill, which has the potential to save consumers $100 billion dollars is far preferable to raising consumer electricity bills by the $100 billion dollars to raise money for grid expansion. The bill also establishes energy efficiency performance standards for utilities. The United States has experienced tremendous growth in electricity consumption over the past decade. Current estimates are that electricity consumption is increasing at roughly two percent per year. Between 1993 and 1999, U.S. summer peak electricity use alone increased by 95,000 megawatts. This is the equivalent of adding a new, six-state New England to the nation's electricity demand every fourteen months. Energy experts estimate that as much as 50 percent of expected new demand over the next 20 years can be met through consumer efficiency and load management programs. Over the past two decades, utility demand-side efficiency programs have avoided the need for more than 100 300-megawatt power plants. However, with the advent of electricity deregulation, utility spending on these efficiency programs has dropped by almost half. The federal government should seek to correct this trend, and this bill takes a strong first step in that direction by phasing in a requirement that utilities reduce their peak demand for power and their customers' power use between 2004 and 2013. Finally, the bill enacts standards that enable increased on-site, or distributed, generation to reduce pressure on the grid and lessen the impact of a blackout should one occur. We have an obligation, Mr. President, to ensure that the electricity grid is secure. We currently have a giant system consisting of almost 200,000 miles of interconnecting lines that constantly shift huge amounts of electricity throughout the country. Such a giant and complex system, traversing miles of city and countryside, is inevitably subject to unforseen problems. Simply making it bigger will never take away all uncertainty, nor can it eliminate the vulnerability of the grid to sabotage or terrorist attack. We should to all we can to make certain such vulnerabilities are reduced. In summary, Mr. President, I am introducing this legislation because I feel that we should be cautious in our assumptions that the answer to our nation's reliability woes lies primarily in building a bigger, more expansive grid. Simply building more transmission lines is not the answer. Investments in energy efficiency and on-site generation can significantly improve the reliability of the nation's electricity grid and in most cases will be cheaper, faster to implement and more environmentally friendly than large-scale grid expansion. We also must fill the regulatory gaps in the system, which my bill does. Congress should establish mandatory reliability standards and close other regulatory gaps left by state deregulation of the electricity sector. In addition, no national reliability program will be effective or complete without strong incentives for demand-side management programs, for efficiency and for on-site generation. We cannot solve today's energy problems with yesterday's solutions. My bill is an innovative approach to ensuring electric reliability by maximizing energy efficiency, regulatory efficiency, and efficient investment. Given the high costs of power outages to our country, Mr. President, we cannot afford to do otherwise. I invite my colleagues to join me in my efforts to advance energy security and reliability in the United States. I ask that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.