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Olson reliability bill advances in House

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The House Energy and Commerce Committee on May 15 approved H.R. 271, the Resolving Environmental and Grid Reliability Conflicts Act of 2013. The bill, authored by Rep. Pete Olson, R-Texas, is designed to make sure electric utilities can comply with Department of Energy emergency orders to maintain grid reliability without facing penalties for violating potentially conflicting environmental laws.  APPA supports the bill. 

The bill, which passed the committee on a voice vote, will now go to the full House of Representatives for consideration.

The Federal Power Act authorizes DOE to order electric generating facilities to continue operating in order to avoid potential reliability-related emergencies. However, compliance with such an emergency order could trigger a violation of environmental laws and regulations, potentially exposing the generator to penalties and lawsuits.

"This is a commonsense fix that will help keep the lights on in times of emergencies," said committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. "This legislation passed this committee and the full House last year, and I am hopeful we’ll be able to get this through the Senate and to the president this time," he said.

"Texas and other states are being warned by electricity regulators that reserve margins could dip dangerously low this summer," said Olson. "My bill fixes an unfortunate glitch in federal law that puts power generators in the unenviable position of choosing which federal law they will violate - a DOE emergency order to provide power or environmental laws that expose them to citizen lawsuits."

The measure is cosponsored by Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa. —JEANNINE ANDERSON


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