Last week, Republican Congressional lawmakers led by Rep. Richard Hudson, R-NC, introduced a bill to stop new regulations for energy distribution transformers proposed by the Biden Administration.
Entitled the Protecting America’s Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act, the legislation repeals the U.S. Department of Energy’s ability to impose new regulations on distribution transformers for five years.
In December, the Department of Energy proposed new standards for distribution transformers intended to “improve the resiliency of America’s power grid, lower utility bills, and significantly reduce domestic carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions.”
NEW DOE RESTRICTIONS
Among the new restrictions is the switch from grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES) cores to less common-place amorphous steel cores.
Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm praised the new standards, stating they would “lower energy costs.”
“Efficient distribution transformers enhance the resilience of our nation’s energy grid and make it possible to deliver affordable electrical power to consumers in every corner of America,” said Granholm in a press release. “By modernizing their energy-conservation standards, we’re ensuring that this critical component of our electricity system operates as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.”
However, critics of the proposals contend that new regulations on transformers will “disrupt” America’s energy supply chain by making them harder to produce and procure.
“The Department of Energy should be focusing on strengthening the U.S. supply chain for distribution transformers for the next five years, not further disrupting it,” said Hudson in a press release. “I am proud to introduce the Protecting America’s Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act in order to ensure our electrical manufacturers can continue to do what they do best, without Washington getting in their way.”
Other legislators have backed Hudson’s efforts, including Rep. Troy Balderson, R-OH, one of the bill’s primary co-sponsors who serves alongside Hudson on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“The Biden Administration’s new standards for distribution transformers threatens national security, grid reliability and resilience, and the continued domestic production of grain-oriented electrical steel (GOES),” Balderson stated.
Energy industry leaders have openly opposed new transformer regulations and have backed Hudson’s bill.
“We appreciate Congressman Hudson’s leadership to advance solutions that accelerate the production, procurement, and deployment of transformers. Distribution transformers are essential for both ensuring grid reliability, including restoring power following natural disasters and storms, and supporting the clean energy transition and economic growth in our communities,” said Dwight Jacobs, Duke Energy’s Chief Procurement Officer.
Energy infrastructure in the spotlight
There has been a renewed focus on America’s energy infrastructure following a December incident when unknown individuals fired guns at two Duke Energy-owned substations in Moore County, N.C. More than 40,000 residents were left without power for four days after the attacks disabled the substations. Currently, law enforcement have not made any arrests concerning the attacks.
Legislators have taken notice of the Moore County attacks in relation to concerns over the vulnerability of America’s energy infrastructure. On Friday, members of the House Subcommittee on Energy, Climate and Grid Security held a hearing at Pinehurst Village Hall in Moore County to discuss potential threats to infrastructure.
At the hearing, Rep. Hudson, who resides in and represents Moore County in Congress, warned his colleagues that energy infrastructure is vulnerable to further attacks while stating that they could learn lessons from what took place in December.
“We can learn from what happened [in Moore County] what could happen somewhere else if a larger scale attack of this sophistication ever were to happen,” said Hudson.
Hudson has introduced other legislation meant to counter the Biden Administration’s energy agenda. Last week, the U.S. House passed the Save Our Gas Stove Act countering proposed Department of Energy measures banning some gas stove models. The bill will now seek approval from the Democratic-controlled Senate.