AWEA, NEMA, SEIA, WIRES urge Congress to streamline US electrical infrastructure projects
WASHINGTON, D.C., March 14, 2017 — A coalition of groups representing a broad spectrum of U.S. manufacturing, construction, energy and environmental workers are calling for Congress to include electric transmission provisions in any proposed infrastructure legislation and streamline expansion of U.S. electrical infrastructure.
A co-signed letter by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), WIRES, and other groups, was sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California. In the letter, coalition members urged Congress to promote grid investments that lessen the economic impact of electrical outages and ensure that the country's high-voltage transmission system is productive and secure.
"Just like highways and bridges, transmission is infrastructure that keeps the U.S. economy moving – and growing," said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. "Investment in new transmission lines will modernize the U.S. grid and deliver more clean energy to population centers. This investment also will help to keep the lights on and costs low for American homeowners and businesses. Recognizing transmission as essential infrastructure is another way Congress and the administration can keep promises of advancing all forms of energy while growing U.S. energy independence."
"Modernizing, expanding, and protecting the electric grid is a national priority," said NEMA President and CEO Kevin Cosgriff. "Upgrading and extending the more than 200,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines in the United States is necessary in its own right to ensure that low-cost and reliable electricity continues to flow to the nation's businesses, hospitals, schools, and homes. But importantly, it also supports high-quality construction and manufacturing jobs. Unlike other infrastructure projects, the primary obstacle facing electrical infrastructure tends not to be a lack of federal funding. Rather, labyrinthine transmission siting and permitting processes are major barriers slowing grid investments."
"Modern electricity infrastructure is the missing piece of the puzzle that will allow the greater use of clean, abundant sources of energy in communities across America," said SEIA's President and CEO Abigail Ross Hopper. "We've seen lower cost clean energy expand dramatically in parts of the country with modern infrastructure, and that is a trend that will only continue with supportive and sensible policy."
"A robust and highly integrated transmission grid is the gateway to the intensely electrified North American economy of the 21st Century. Along the way, it will yield over 150,000 jobs each year and save consumer nearly $50 billion annually," stated Jim Hoecker, Counsel to WIRES and former Chairman of FERC. "However, all that depends on rationalizing a regulation regime that typically holds projects hostage for a decade and penalizes innovation."
Transmission infrastructure consists of the steel poles and wires that deliver electricity across large distances to areas where it's needed, like cities and heavy manufacturing facilities. A strong grid is essential for a free market in electricity as new power lines help diversify the grid. New transmission also creates jobs and rural economic development at one end of the line and while delivering lower electricity prices at the other.
AWEA is the national trade association of the U.S. wind energy industry. We represent 1,000 member companies and over 100,000 jobs in the U.S. economy, serving as a powerful voice for how wind works for America. Members include global leaders in wind power and energy development, turbine manufacturing, and component and service suppliers. They gather each year at the Western Hemisphere's largest wind power trade show, the AWEA WINDPOWER Conference & Exhibition, next in Anaheim, California, May 22-26, 2017. Find information about wind energy on the AWEA website. Gain insight into industry issues on AWEA's blog, Into the Wind. And please join us on Facebook, and follow @AWEA on Twitter.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) represents 350 electrical, medical imaging, and radiation therapy manufacturers at the forefront of electrical safety, reliability, resilience, efficiency, and energy security. Our combined industries account for more than 400,000 American jobs and more than 7,000 facilities across the United States. Domestic production exceeds $114 billion per year and exports top $50 billion.
Celebrating its 43rd anniversary in 2017, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 260,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online a www.seia.org.
WIRES is an international non‐profit association of investor‐, member‐, and publicly‐owned electric transmission providers, renewable resource developers, regional transmission organizations, and economic, technology, and policy consultants whose sole mission is promotion of investment in the high voltage electric transmission. A description of its membership, its principles, and its activities are available at www.wiresgroup.com.
AWEA Contact: Evan Vaughan
NEMA Contact: Tracy Cullen
SEIA Contact: Alex Hobson