Newly introduced Efficient Grid Interconnection Act aims to equitably allocate costs of transmission system upgrades

On Tuesday, Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL), chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, the Efficient Grid Interconnection Act, a bill that would help families provide their homes with affordable and abundant clean energy by reducing expensive transmission congestion and connecting more cheap renewable energy on the grid.

“By expanding access to affordable, clean energy, families will save money on energy bills, create jobs in communities across America, reduce pollution and improve public health across the board,” said Rep. Castor. “It’s time to put Americans to work building new wind, solar and energy storage projects. By making our network more efficient, we also put money back into the pockets of working families, as we remove the barriers that stand between them and cheap, renewable energy. This bill will help us continue to unlock America’s clean energy potential, an essential step in our fight to solve the climate crisis.”

Grid interconnection challenges continue to harm consumers, communities and developers through higher electricity rates, higher capital costs and wasted job-creating opportunities in rural areas, according to a recent report by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid and the Macro Grid Initiative. Solving these problems is an important step to expand access to clean energy, create tens of thousands of jobs, facilitate rural economic development and increase federal and state tax revenues.

The Efficient Grid Connection Act would:

  • Instruct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to distribute network upgrade costs fairly among all beneficiaries; and
  • Direct FERC to require grid operators to study deployment of grid-enhancing technologies to cover the costs of traditional transmission upgrades, saving everyone time and money.

The full text of the bill is available here.

Original co-sponsors of the Efficient Grid Interconnection Act are Rep. Julia Brownley (D-CA), Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL), Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) and Rep Jan Schakowsky (D-IL). The bill is also supported by several stakeholders, including the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), ITC Holdings, Enel North America, the WATT Coalition, Sustainable FERC Project , Earthjustice and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“The Efficient Grid Interconnection Act of 2021 would remove a long-standing roadblock to America’s clean energy future,” said Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). “Current network interconnection policies are largely analogous to requiring the next car to enter a busy highway to pay the full bill for a necessary lane expansion. It makes no sense, and it has held hundreds of thousands of megawatts of wind, solar and energy storage resources in interconnection queues. By directing FERC to appropriately allocate interconnection costs across the entire universe of beneficiaries, this legislation will help unlock that queue and accelerate the transition to a sustainable energy economy. We commend Chairman Castor for her leadership on this critical issue, and we look forward to working with Congress to enact the Efficient Grid Interconnection Act of 2021 into law this year.”

News item from the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis

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