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Congressman Gene Green

Representing the 29th District of Texas

Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill would Give Certainty to Power Generators, Protect Reliability

March 24, 2015
Press Release

(Washington, D.C.)—On Tuesday, Reps. Gene Green (D-TX), Pete Olson (R-TX), and Mike Doyle (D-PA) reintroduced H.R. 1558, the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Act. This legislation would ensure electric reliability during extremely high electricity demand periods. By enabling utilities to follow the Department of Energy’s emergency must-run orders instead of being penalized by the Environmental Protection Agency for violations of the Clean Air Act, the legislation offers an overdue resolution to a long-standing legal conflict. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) also reintroduced Senate companion bill, the Grid Reliability Act.

“This bill is a common sense solution to an issue that affects Americans all across the country,” Green said. “Our current system causes conflict and delays when we can least afford them, all because of ill-defined jurisdiction—but this legislation easily fixes that. This bipartisan solution will ensure that utilities keep the power on, businesses remain up and running and our constituents keep their lights on. Emergencies can happen at any time, and when they do, we need a direct path to resolution, this bill provides that path.”

Olson said, "Texas and other states are well aware that reserve margins can dip dangerously during the hot summer months. Not to mention the long, cold winter we just experienced in most of the US. This bill fixes an unfortunate glitch in federal law that puts power generators in the unenviable position of choosing which federal law they will violate - a DOE emergency order to provide power or environmental laws that expose them to citizen lawsuits. The bipartisan and bicameral support for this bill is proof that we can find common ground when working to address a critical fault in federal law, protect the environment and provide a reliable energy supply to all Americans."

“Ensuring that Americans can count on a dependable supply of electricity, even in extreme temperature conditions, should be a top priority for Congress,” Doyle said. “That’s why it’s important to reconcile these conflicting federal laws that put power producers in an untenable position. I’m pleased to once again join my colleagues in reintroducing the Grid Reliability Act to help keep electricity flowing to American homes and businesses.”

 McCaskill said, “This is an issue of basic fairness and common sense. The government has created an inherent conflict by forcing electricity providers to take action and then punishing them for taking that action. Our bipartisan bill gets rid of that conflict by allowing utilities to improve grid reliability without fear of these conflicting, burdensome environmental regulations.”

“It is completely unacceptable that utility providers in Missouri and across the nation are forced to violate the law and face costly lawsuits for simply doing their job,” Blunt said. “This bipartisan bill provides certainty to the people responsible for keeping the lights on and protect‎s utility providers from citizen lawsuits or environmental fines when the government forces them to operate for reliability purposes.”

In recent years, conflicting laws have resulted in lawsuits and heavy fines for electricity providers attempting to comply with these statutes.