Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

FULL HOUSE APPROVES OLSON BILL TO HELP ENSURE ELECTRIC RELIABILITY

May 22, 2013
Press Release

Today Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) announced that the full House of Representatives passed H.R. 271, his bill, which would ensure power remains on during extremely high demand periods. The bill passed by a voice vote. It would allow America’s power companies to comply with federal orders to maintain grid reliability during a power emergency without facing lawsuits or penalties for possibly violating potentially conflicting federal environmental laws. A similar version of this legislation was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress.

Congressman Pete Olson said, "As we head into hot summer months, power grids in states like Texas and others across the country are being warned about reliability concerns. My bill will simply fix an unfortunate glitch in federal law that forces power generators to choose which federal law they must violate - a DOE emergency order to maintain power or environmental laws that expose them to citizen lawsuits. I thank my colleagues for their widespread bipartisan support for this bill. It's heartening to know that we can find common ground when working to protect the public from dangerous blackouts. I urge the Senate to pass this bill quickly so we maintain a reliable power supply for all Americans."

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Uptonsaid, "This legislation will allow power companies to keep the lights on during times of emergencies without being penalized. I thank Mr. Olson for his leadership and I urge the Senate to take up this commonsense measure."

Reliability Concerns

Temperatures are beginning to soar across Texas and federal climatologists predict they will stay above normal this summer. High temperatures place difficult challenges on an already overworked Texas power grid. In a recent report, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation projected that the Texas grid will have the lowest percentage of power reserves this summer of any region of the country.

Relevant Prior Occurrences

In 2005,Mirant (now GenOn) faced a dilemma when the Department of Energy (DOE) ordered the Potomac River Generating Station to continue operations in violation of environmental laws to protect reliability for Washington, D.C.  Mirant complied and was later fined by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for a three hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard violation. 

In 2001, Mirant’s Potrero Power Plant in the San Francisco area was issued an emergency order by DOE to ensure reliability during an electricity crisis. Mirant obtained written approval from local and federal regulators, who allowed the plant to operate for more than 877 hours. Yet, Mirant still faced a citizen lawsuit by the City of San Francisco and environmental groups for exceeding the 877 hour operating limit and was forced to settle the lawsuit at significant expense.

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Today Rep. Pete Olson (TX-22) announced that the full House of Representatives passed H.R. 271, his bill, which would ensure power remains on during extremely high demand periods. The bill passed by a voice vote. It would allow America’s power companies to comply with federal orders to maintain grid reliability during a power emergency without facing lawsuits or penalties for possibly violating potentially conflicting federal environmental laws. A similar version of this legislation was passed by voice vote in the House of Representatives in the 112th Congress.

Congressman Pete Olson said, "As we head into hot summer months, power grids in states like Texas and others across the country are being warned about reliability concerns. My bill will simply fix an unfortunate glitch in federal law that forces power generators to choose which federal law they must violate - a DOE emergency order to maintain power or environmental laws that expose them to citizen lawsuits. I thank my colleagues for their widespread bipartisan support for this bill. It's heartening to know that we can find common ground when working to protect the public from dangerous blackouts. I urge the Senate to pass this bill quickly so we maintain a reliable power supply for all Americans."

Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Uptonsaid, "This legislation will allow power companies to keep the lights on during times of emergencies without being penalized. I thank Mr. Olson for his leadership and I urge the Senate to take up this commonsense measure."

Reliability Concerns

Temperatures are beginning to soar across Texas and federal climatologists predict they will stay above normal this summer. High temperatures place difficult challenges on an already overworked Texas power grid. In a recent report, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation projected that the Texas grid will have the lowest percentage of power reserves this summer of any region of the country.

Relevant Prior Occurrences

In 2005,Mirant (now GenOn) faced a dilemma when the Department of Energy (DOE) ordered the Potomac River Generating Station to continue operations in violation of environmental laws to protect reliability for Washington, D.C.  Mirant complied and was later fined by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality for a three hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard violation. 

In 2001, Mirant’s Potrero Power Plant in the San Francisco area was issued an emergency order by DOE to ensure reliability during an electricity crisis. Mirant obtained written approval from local and federal regulators, who allowed the plant to operate for more than 877 hours. Yet, Mirant still faced a citizen lawsuit by the City of San Francisco and environmental groups for exceeding the 877 hour operating limit and was forced to settle the lawsuit at significant expense.

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