In a recent letter to Congressional leadership, Joy Ditto, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association (APPA), detailed APPA’s support for provisions in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684).
“We appreciate that H.R. 3684 includes significant investments in energy infrastructure, including investments in electric vehicle supply equipment, the transmission and distribution systems that make up our electric grids, cybersecurity, and federal research, development, and deployment of cutting-edge energy technology,” wrote Ditto in the Sept. 29 letter.
“Robust federal support remains critical as public power utilities continue to transition to cleaner energy resources, all while keeping their rates affordable and ensuring reliable service for their customers,” she said.
APPA is particularly supportive of section 11401, which would establish a Department of Transportation grant program for entities, which includes public power utilities, to deploy alternative fuel vehicle infrastructure, including for electric and hydrogen vehicles.
“This funding, as well as grants to states for electric vehicle charging equipment, will help public power utilities as they seek to support the specific transportation needs of their local communities,” Ditto noted in the letter.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act would also fund programs to prevent outages and increase grid resiliency (section 40101), deploy innovative smart grid technology (section 40107), and increase appropriations for both the Weatherization Assistance Program and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program to assist low-income families with their energy costs.
Cybersecurity is another key element of a reliable energy system, Ditto said.
“While the electric utility industry and its federal government partners have made great strides in addressing cybersecurity threats and vulnerabilities in recent years, we must redouble our efforts to keep pace with the changing grid and security threat landscape. APPA strongly supports the bill’s increase in funding for various energy sector cybersecurity programs and efforts,” she wrote in the letter.
APPA supports section 40121, which would require the Secretary of Energy to carry out a program to promote and advance the physical and cybersecurity of electric utilities, with priority provided to utilities with fewer resources.
This provision will build on the existing successful public-private partnership between APPA and the Department of Energy to bring greater resources, training, and tools for cyber and physical security to small- and medium-sized electric utilities.
As public power utilities continue their efforts to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change, “APPA appreciates that H.R. 3684 builds on the success of the Energy Act of 2020 to fund DOE research on a host of innovative technologies, including carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, energy storage, advanced nuclear, and solar power.”
Maintaining and enhancing hydropower as a generating resource “will also be critical to ensuring reliable power during this transition and APPA strongly supports the provisions of the bill that increase incentives for hydropower production and improvements,” Ditto said.
“APPA truly appreciates that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act recognizes the importance of energy infrastructure, which is the lifeblood of our nation’s economic and national security, as well as vital to the health and safety of all Americans. We thank you for your leadership and for the support as public power utilities work tirelessly to provide reliable, affordable, and sustainable electricity to their customers and your constituents,” Ditto wrote.
H.R. 3684 passed the Senate on August 10 and is currently under consideration by the House of Representatives but the timing of a vote on the bill remains unclear as of Oct. 4.