At the top of the American Public Power Association’s wish list for congressional action this year is permitting reform to enable much needed generation and transmission, Scott Corwin, APPA’s President and CEO said on Jan. 23.
At the same time, he underscored the fact that public power utilities remain laser focused on maintaining high levels of reliability for their customers.
Corwin made his remarks at the United States Energy Association’s 20th Annual State of the Energy Industry Forum in Washington, D.C. He participated on a panel, “Practical Energy Use and Supply,” that also included the leaders of several other energy trade associations.
During the Q&A portion of the session, Corwin was asked to provide his thoughts on how public power utility CEOs are juggling their responsibilities against the backdrop of customers increasingly expecting a growing supply of cleaner fuels, while also having affordable rates and reliable and resilient supplies of power.
“They’re looking at these inputs like NERC’s winter reliability assessment where they said half the country is at risk of having insufficient operating reserves this winter,” Corwin said as he described an array of actions to address the concerns.
At the same time, public power utilities are being proactive when it comes to things like emissions reductions. Corwin pointed out that “public power generally has reduced carbon emissions by over 30 percent since 2005 and some are well beyond that. But they don’t make the decision to choose other objectives over reliability. It’s not an option.”
When public safety is at stake, “when business and economic development activity in your community is at stake, you have to have reliable power and it’s not just this week, or this month, it’s every second of every day and you’re operating to that standard,” he said.
Corwin also highlighted the increasing role of technology for utilities. “We’re putting that to work” in areas such as identifying “peaks with more granularity” and trying to shave the peaks from the system, as well as figuring out ways in which to incent behaviors for energy efficiency and demand response.
At the end of the panel discussion, Mark Menezes, USEA’s President and CEO, asked panelists to say what would be number one on their wish list for Congress to enact in 2024.
Corwin put permitting reform at the top of the list, adding “that should also include streamlining the licensing and relicensing of the great generation resources that we already have and rely on, such as hydropower, which is a resource that meets many objectives.”
Along with permitting reform, APPA’s other key legislative priorities for 2024 include, among other things, congressional action that will:
- Alleviate the supply chain crisis for distribution transformers
- Restore advance refunding bonds
- Implement elective pay provisions to ensure public power utilities can easily use energy tax credits for their infrastructure projects
- Push for federal climate policies, including GHG regulations issued by EPA, to be designed to ensure grid reliability, affordability, and a diverse resource mix, and be based on proven, readily-available technologies
- Grid security
APPA’s 2024 Legislative Rally will be held Feb. 26-28 in Washington, D.C.