Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

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

March 24, 2015
Press Release

McCaskill, Blunt, Olson, Green, Doyle introduce bill to help utilities comply with grid reliability and ease conflicting environmental regulation

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill and Roy Blunt of Missouri, along with U.S. Representatives Pete Olson and Gene Green of Texas, and Representative Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania, today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to improve power grid reliability while protecting utilities from conflicting environmental statutes. The Grid Reliability Act would prevent a potential conflicting situation in which a utility is ordered by the Department of Energy to run a plant to improve grid reliability while the operation of the utility would violate environmental statutes.

“This is an issue of basic fairness and common sense,” McCaskill said. “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.”

"Texas and other states are well aware that reserve margins can dip dangerously during the hot summer months,” Olson said. “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."

“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.”

“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.”

In recent years, conflicting laws have resulted in lawsuits and heavy fines for electricity providers attempting to comply with these statutes. Click here for a link to the text of H.R. 1558, the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act.

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Media Contact: Melissa Kelly
202-225-5951

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