National Energy Bill Vital for America's Future
By Steve Kiesner Director of National Accounts, Edison Electric Institute | January 25, 2009
But electricity, and indeed all energy, is something we can't take for granted. Although most people think about electricity only when they flip on the light switch, the U.S. electric system consists of a massive, interconnected network of generating plants, transmission lines, and distribution facilities.
Energy legislation is needed now to reinforce electric reliability, foster more efficient, competitive electric power markets, promote fuel diversity, and expand our energy supplies and production. At the same time, a national energy bill needs to stress efficiency and the wise use of existing resources. With electricity consumption expected to increase 49 percent between today and 2025, these supply and demand measures are the best long-term solutions for our energy future.
The electric power industry is not alone in seeking a comprehensive energy bill. A recent national poll showed that 87 percent of Americans favor it. Congress has been working on an energy bill for the past three years. Last fall it ended up two votes shy of sending a bill to President Bush. We encourage the hotel industry to voice its support this year for passage of a national energy bill.
The August 2003 blackout dramatically illustrated the growing strain on our nation's electricity grid. The U.S. electric transmission grid consists of nearly 160,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines. Transmission lines carry electricity from generating plants to areas where electricity is needed. In recent years, the number of transactions on the transmission grid has increased significantly to serve the growing demands for power. According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, transmission bottlenecks cost consumers more than $1 billion over the past two summers alone.
The blackout has raised a lot of questions about what can be done to ensure electric reliability. EEI is recommending that energy legislation include the following components to address electric transmission needs: