A bipartisan view on modernizing the US electric grid
Congress must incentivize power industry innovations yielding cleaner and more customized energy services, the co-chairs of the House Grid Innovation Caucus write
One of the most pressing challenges facing lawmakers today is the need to update and modernize an aging American infrastructure, including the way we produce, distribute and consume energy.
The American energy grid serves as the backbone of our economy, touching every aspect of our lives. A reliable grid system is also fundamental to our national security and our clean energy future. As co-chairs of the bipartisan Grid Innovation Caucus, oversight and modernization of this complex and critical infrastructure is one of our key priorities.
For lawmakers to encourage and enable innovative advancements that can improve the security and reliability of our nation’s energy grid, we must work on a bipartisan basis and actively engage with industry leaders. Fortunately, modernization and innovation of our energy infrastructure is already underway. What was once a one-way delivery system has evolved into a dynamic network where information and energy flow both ways.
For consumers, this means more customer choice, enhanced integration of all energy sources, and improved reliability and security. And for American electric companies that already invest more than $100 billion a year in our energy grid, it means creating new partnerships with companies whose cutting-edge technologies complement and enhance electric companies’ efforts.
To bring these parties together, the Grid Innovation Caucus, in conjunction with the Edison Electric Institute, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association and the GridWise Alliance, hosted the House Grid Innovation Expo. Lawmakers were invited to see the latest technologies that have resulted from joint efforts to build smarter energy infrastructure, and to discuss with company leaders a wide range of energy technology solutions, including storage, distributed energy management, advanced metering and storm resilience. These exhibits highlight some of the forward-thinking solutions that industry leaders are already utilizing to ensure the long-term security and reliably of our electric grid system.
Energy storage is rapidly improving and presents exciting opportunities for the grid’s integration of clean energy resources. Solar and wind aren’t available when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing. Right now, energy must be used as it’s generated. The latest storage technologies are flexible enough to enhance and benefit all aspects of the grid — generation to transmission to distribution.
Much has also been done in recent years to improve the grid’s resilience against storms and to enable electric companies to restore service quickly in the event of an outage. Since Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, advanced technology such as smart meters, hardened poles that are more resilient to high winds, and automated switches on poles and wires that respond without the need for manual intervention have been deployed across the nation.