WASHINGTON, DC – The Subcommittee on Energy, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today held a hearing examining the state of America’s evolving energy infrastructure and barriers to innovation, modernization, and further job creation and economic growth. The changing energy landscape and technological development are creating opportunities in the manner in which electricity is delivered, generated, and consumed. Members explored opportunities to improve the nation’s economic competitiveness while modernizing the grid for the 21st century.
Ganesh Bell, Chief Digital Officer and General Manager of Software and Analytics at General Electric, discussed the importance of collaboration between the federal government and private industry, stating, “Given the myriad benefits of applying digital technology to electric power production and distribution – benefits that accrue to consumers, to utilities, and to the environment – the federal government should explore ways to encourage the responsible adoption of these digital technologies as a core part of our national electricity strategy. We would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with this Committee in furthering that objective…”
Lonnie Stephenson, International President of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, talked about the importance of modernizing the permitting process for pipelines, commenting, “In order to assure these important projects are completed in a timely manner, unnecessary red tape must be eliminated from the siting and permitting process. It is absolutely critical that electrical infrastructure projects are completed by highly skilled, thoroughly trained, licensed workers.”
“Adequate investment in surface transportation, water infrastructure, and domestic energy will create millions of jobs for workers across all segments of the economy,” added Terry O’Sullivan, General President of the Laborers’ International Union of North America. “This isn’t a Republican issue or Democratic issue; it’s an American issue. Every American benefits from good roads, safe bridges, clean drinking water, and affordable energy.”
In his testimony, Steve Hauser, CEO of the GrideWise Alliance spoke to the importance of modernizing the grid, “Congress has an opportunity to demonstrate leadership in this regard. Grid modernization is an area that has garnered bipartisan support in the past and should continue to do so. Modernizing the grid will help create highly-skilled jobs and stimulate economic growth. It also will help reduce costs, and increase reliability, resilience, and security in the near and long term.”
Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) stated, “The U.S. electrical grid is one of the engineering marvels of modern history. But it is aging and under stress. As technology continues to change the way we go about our daily lives, we also have to rethink how we generate, deliver and consume electricity. This could provide opportunities for consumers, both large and small to save money and be more competitive. We must also ensure that the grid works in ways that optimize and build upon integrating new technologies with existing grid infrastructure when needed.”
“We’re blessed to have the world’s most highly developed energy infrastructure, but our systems are aging and we’re confronting new challenges with the changing energy landscape,” concluded Chairman Upton. “Dynamic and integrated energy and electricity delivery systems allow reliable and competitively priced energy for American consumers. A modernized infrastructure is absolutely critical to our nation’s economic growth.
A background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s website HERE.