Powering Strong Communities

Florida Senator Introduces Legislation That Addresses Utility Sector Supply Chain Challenges

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., recently introduced legislation that would establish an energy grid product manufacturing loan program at the U.S. Department of Energy to expand domestic production as a way in which to address ongoing electric utility sector supply chain challenges.

The new loan program would be fully paid for by the rescission of unused appropriations, as recommended by the Government Accountability Office.

The program would finance $8 billion in loan guarantees for the re-equipping, expansion, or establishment of domestic energy grid product and component manufacturing facilities in the United States. 

“Due to international supply chain backlogs, electric utilities in the U.S. are struggling to receive ordered electric grid products in a timely manner, especially transformers,” Rubio’s office said in an Aug. 2 news release related to the legislation. “These delays are resulting in dangerously low stockpiles for new developments and replacement equipment, which threaten preparedness throughout the country, but especially in a state like Florida where hurricanes can severely disrupt the electric grid,” the news release said.

The Florida Municipal Electric Association (FMEA) “has been diligently working this issue since March and applauds Sen. Rubio for his efforts to address the significant issues we have been raising with our federal and state officials,” said Amy Zubaly, Executive Director of FMEA.

A group of federal lawmakers from Florida on June 10 sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency that highlighted “the dangerous supply chain shortages affecting Florida’s electric cooperatives and municipalities.”

APPA Moves To Address Supply Chain Challenges

The American Public Power Association (APPA) is taking a number of actions to address ongoing supply chain challenges.

APPA recently rolled out an additional feature to its eReliability Tracker that is available to all public power utilities and allows for voluntary equipment sharing by matching systems with the same distribution voltages.

In a speech in June at APPA’s National Conference in Nashville, Tenn., Ditto urged member utilities to share their supply chain challenges with APPA so that the trade group can relay details on these challenges to federal partners and discuss how critical burdens on the sector can be alleviated.

In May, APPA convened a supply chain summit that included participation from public power utility officials who discussed their supply chain challenges and mitigation strategies.

APPA also recently finalized a new supply chain issue brief. APPA members can download the issue brief here.