US Congressional Grid Innovation Caucus relaunched

US Congressional Grid Innovation Caucus relaunched

The Grid Innovation Caucus has been relaunched for the current 118th Congress with a focus on strengthening the nation’s grid and ensuring its security and reliability.

The bipartisan Caucus, the initiative of Bob Latta, Republican representative for northwest and west central Ohio, and Marilyn Strickland, Democratic representative for western Washington, will run to the end of the current presidential term at the start of January 2025.

Its relaunch highlights the increasing focus on the grid for driving the energy transition forward.

According to a press statement, the Caucus will work to improve the security and reliability of the US electric grid by “increasing institutional understanding of grid complexities, identifying opportunities for productive and bipartisan engagement, and highlighting the constructive role technological innovation can play in bolstering grid infrastructure”.

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Latta said in the statement that ensuring the security and reliability of the electric grid cannot be overstated.

“From increasing efficiency to meet our growing energy needs to implementing modernised defences that protect against cyberattacks, there is much work to be done to safeguard this critical infrastructure.”

Strickland said in the statement that strengthening the nation’s energy grid “is necessary for a cleaner and more energy efficient future that supports good paying jobs, strengthens domestic power production, and decreases the frequency of power outages in our communities”.

“[I] look forward to highlighting the importance of an innovative, reliable and efficient grid.”

The Grid Innovation Caucus was first launched in 2014 by former representatives Renee Ellmers from North Carolina and Jerry McNerney from California as a forum for discussing solutions to the challenges facing the grid, with industry support from the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) and GridWise Alliance.

Latta and McNerney then co-chaired the Grid Innovation Caucus for the 115th Congress, which ran from January 2017 to 2019.

Both organisations have welcomed the Caucus relaunch and have committed to working with it.

Debra Phillips, NEMA president and CEO, said: “Bipartisan commitment to a modernised and resilient electrical grid is an essential undertaking.”

Karen Wayland GridWise Alliance CEO, said: “No sector of our economy is transforming more rapidly than the electric grid, as new and innovative technologies compel changes to the ways we operate and manage the grid to provide reliable, secure, affordable and clean power.”

Christina Hayes, executive director of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG), also commented, saying that strong, bipartisan solutions are needed to improve America’s transmission system.

“An expanded and modernised transmission system will lower consumer costs, prevent dangerous power outages and create good-paying jobs – all issues that cut across party lines.”

The Caucus relaunch also has been welcomed by Julia Selker, executive director of the WATT Coalition.

Highlighting the role of grid enhancing technologies in improving reliability and resilience, she said: “Transmission capacity expansion and grid modernisation are not keeping pace with the needs of American ratepayers and industry, and Congress can accelerate a digital transformation in the sector.”