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LaMalfa Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Strengthen Electric Grid Infrastructure Against Extreme Weather

Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) joined Representatives Jared Huffman (CA-02), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Kevin Brady (TX-08), and Michael Burgess (TX-26) to introduce bipartisan legislation to help weatherize electrical grids across the nation. The Preventing Outages With Enhanced Resilience and Operations Nationwide (POWER ON) Act would assist electricity providers and suppliers with federal funding to protect their facilities and infrastructure against future extreme weather events, like wildfires in California or the February freeze in Texas. Senators Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced companion language in the Senate.

LaMalfa said, “California and much of the West have been dealing with electric service blackouts for several years due to severe wildfire seasons, and this year’s forecast suggests this devastating trend will continue. We need a comprehensive approach to this problem that can begin yielding results immediately. The POWER ON Act directs resources to every part of our energy infrastructure to decrease the frequency and severity of power shutoffs and specifically targets high winds, heat, mudslides, and wildfires. Continued safety blackouts are harmful to the public’s safety and local economies. It makes us resemble a Third World situation, one that is unnecessary and self-inflicted. I am encouraged by the bipartisan work on this bill and hope we can capitalize on this progress to make real gains towards alleviating this worsening problem.”

“Once-in-a-generation weather events are now becoming a regular occurrence,” said Sen. Padilla.  “Whether it be public safety power shutoffs or electric system failures due to extreme weather events, we must invest in grid resilience and modernization in order to keep the power on in impacted communities. We can’t leave another family in the dark during wildfire season or without heat in a blizzard. That’s why Senator Cornyn and I are proposing these necessary, smart investments to strengthen our electric grid and create jobs to boost our economy in the process.”

“Whether we face subzero temperatures, gale force winds, or any other type of extreme weather, Texas’s electric grid must be able to withstand the impact,” said Sen. Cornyn.  “This bipartisan legislation is an outstanding start to ensure the life-threatening outages Texans endured this February won’t happen again.”

Summary of the POWER ON Act:

On Grid Resiliency Grants:

  • The POWER ON Act of 2021 would provide electric grid resilience grants through the U.S. Department of Energy to states and Indian Tribes to carry out projects that enhance the physical resilience of the electric grid.
  • Grants will be formula based, as determined by the Secretary of Energy, and allocated annually through an application process.
  • Grants may be used for activities, technologies, equipment, and hardening measures to enable the electric grid to better withstand the effects of extreme weather, wildfires, or any other natural disaster. 
  • Grants will not be provided for new construction but rather to strengthen existing infrastructure, technologies, and equipment.
  • Electricity providers may not seek any cost recovery, through raising rates or otherwise, for projects funded through this program.
  • The bill authorizes $100,000,000 annually for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

On Grid Resilience Research and Development:

  • The POWER ON Act of 2021 would also provide competitive grants for research, development, demonstration, and commercial application activities to improve the resilience of the electric grid.
  • Grants may be used for developing technologies to withstand and address the current and projected impact on electric grid infrastructure of extreme weather, wildfires, or any other natural disaster. 

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