The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Dec. 5 passed bills that would prohibit the Department of Energy from increasing distribution transformer conservation standards for five years, require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to review and comment on federal agency actions that are likely to have significant negative impacts on the reliability and adequacy of the bulk-power system, and reform the FERC licensing process to protect existing hydropower resources and encourage the development of small and next-generation projects.
Passed on a party-line vote, H.R. 4167, the Protecting America’s Distribution Transformer Supply Act, sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), would prohibit DOE from increasing distribution transformer conservation standards for five years.
The American Public Power Association on Sept. 13 voiced support for the bill. “A delay is urgently needed to give manufacturers the certainty to increase production to meet demand,” wrote Desmarie Waterhouse, Senior Vice President, Advocacy and Communications & General Counsel at APPA, in a Statement for the Record.
The Committee on Dec. 5 also passed The Grid Act (H.R. 6185). Sponsored by Representative Jeff Duncan (R-SC), this bill would require FERC to review and comment on federal agency actions that are likely to have significant negative impacts on the reliability and adequacy of the bulk-power system. APPA supports H.R. 6185.
In addition, the committee passed H.R. 4045, the Hydropower Clean Energy Future Act. Sponsored by Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), this bill would confirm that hydropower is an essential renewable energy resource and reform the FERC licensing process to protect existing hydropower resources and encourage the development of small and next-generation projects.
During the Committee’s meeting, Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH) said that she would soon be introducing a bill with Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) to provide an investment tax credit for hydropower asset owners to make dam safety upgrades.
Members of the committee also passed the Nuclear Fuel Security Act of 2023 and the Atomic Energy Advancement Act.
The Atomic Energy Advancement Act includes eleven stand-alone nuclear bills that were under consideration by the committee.
The bill would require changes at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) designed to streamline and speed up the licensing of nuclear power, including advanced nuclear reactors.
Specifically, the bill would require the NRC to utilize, as much as possible, information included in previous licensing activities when licensing a new nuclear facility at a site with an existing nuclear facility, to include nuclear fusion reactors in its regulatory framework for advanced reactors, to reduce hourly fees for advanced reactor applicants, and to identify and report on policy changes needed to encourage the development of nuclear facilities at brownfield sites.
It also authorizes DOE to enter into power purchase agreements of up to 40 years for eligible nuclear reactors and to make awards to cover NRC fees assessed for first-of-a-kind advanced nuclear reactors. It also gives the NRC additional resources and flexibility to hire and retain specialized employees.
APPA supports streamlining the NRC licensing process.