On May 10, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to discuss the state of the country’s electric transmission infrastructure. This hearing was a continuation of the Subcommittee on Energy’s Powering America series, a series of hearings dedicated to examining aspects of the nation’s power sector. The gathered panel of experts provided members of the subcommittee with insight into the challenges that exist within the electric transmission sector.House Hearing on Efforts to Clarify New Source Review Permitting Process
On May 16, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing to examine legislation that would reform the New Source Review (NSR) permitting process. The draft legislation, led by Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), aims to bring clarity and certainty to the NSR permitting process, making it easier for industry to modernize existing facilities and carry out environmentally beneficial projects.
On May 18, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing on H.R. 2278, the Responsible Disposal Reauthorization Act of 2017, and H.R. 2389, to reauthorize the West Valley demonstration project and for other purposes. Subcommittee Chairman Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) stated that the DOE’s office of Environmental Management (EM) faces “a significant workload to complete decontamination work at legacy Cold War sites. Since its establishment about 30 years ago, EM has successfully remediated 92 sites, but the most technologically challenging projects remain in process at 17 locations.” Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY), who sponsored H.R. 2389, explained why Congress needs to prioritize cleaning up nuclear sites, stating, “There are still nuclear sites in the United States that need to be managed and cleaned up. The Western New York Nuclear Service Center in my district is one such site. The Department of Energy estimates that making the investments needed now in nuclear site remediation will save our nation hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming decades.”
On May 22, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing exploring legislation to modernize the DOE’s nuclear energy technologies. The fourth in a series of hearings covering efforts to modernize the DOE, the hearing provided members of the subcommittee with the opportunity to review four bills addressing the development, regulation, and competitiveness if advanced nuclear energy technologies. In an opening statement, Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, stated that “the bills we will examine provide key ingredients to enhance a core national security and energy security mission of the Department, and of the nation: promoting the safe and peaceful use of nuclear technology.”
On May 8, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a full committee hearing on The Current Status and Proposals for Future of the Grid. Chair of the Committee Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) stated that a number of questions must be answered moving forward in our attempts to stabilize the electric grid in Puerto Rico: we must know who is in charge of the electric grid; we must know how the Army Corps of Engineers and the DOE fit into the grid stabilization process; and we must know why there are still island-wide blackouts taking place in Puerto Rico. During the hearing, Assistant Secretary of Energy Bruce Walker stated, “No single investment in energy infrastructure at one point in time will achieve resilience. The energy infrastructure of Puerto Rico must be designed, built, managed, and maintained in such a way to withstand likely stresses, ameliorate disruptions when they inevitably occur, recover quickly, and incorporate lessons learned into post-event planning and operations. This is a continual process of improvement, one involving a reassessment and adaptation of solutions and technologies to address changing needs.”
On May 16, the DOE issued its final rule that set a final compliance date for energy conservation standards for CLFKs. The ruling stated that all CLFKs must meet DOE standards by January 21, 2020 in order to remain in compliance. The rule change at the DOE came as a response to the passage and signing of the “Ceiling Fan Energy Conservation Harmonization Act.”