The Electric Sector is Closely Monitoring Federal Infrastructure Plans

President Donald Trump
State of the Union Statement on Infrastructure Initiative

“Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.”

IoIState of the Union Poll

From Oregon to Washington, D.C., the electric utility sector tuned in to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address Tuesday evening. The next day, it was eager for more details.

They want to know what lies ahead for one of the most capital-intensive sectors ofn the U.S. economy.

Out in Oregon, where wind and solar power are rampant, and longstanding federal hydroelectric power dams light the region, utilities are digging in to the president’s proposals.

“We’ll be reviewing the administration’s infrastructure proposals closely, recognizing that there may be an opportunity to promote better coordination on projects that could support grid modernization and security as well as transportation electrification in Oregon and across the country, said Sheelagh Bandettini, Portland General Electric director of corporate communications.

PGE is based in Portland, serves 862,000 customers and operates $9.9 billion in assets.

“These kinds of projects can be complex and must balance legitimate concerns and benefits carefully, working with stakeholders and the public to assure broad, well-informed support as well as timely, cost-effective implementation,” she said.

The response in Chicago from utility giant Exelon Wednesday was similar.

“Building the next generation power grid continues to be a high priority for Exelon, and we are investing $20 billion at our six utilities over four years to upgrade our infrastructure and incorporate technology that will improve reliability and resiliency and give customers more tools to manage their energy,” the company said in response to questions from Icons of Infrastructure.     

Exelon has 10 million customers in Illinois, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware.

In Washington, the voice of the investor-owned electric utility industry, the Edison Electric Institute, called for speeding up the approval process for erecting new electric infrastructure.

“We are pleased to hear President Trump say that infrastructure is a top priority of the administration, as this issue is a top priority of the electric power industry,” said Kathy Steckelberg, vice president of government relations at EEI.

EEI members provide power to 220 million Americans.

“EEI believes it is important that infrastructure spending helps support development of smart communities and electrification of the transportation sector. We fully support streamlining and expediting the process for permitting and siting energy infrastructure – including transmission, natural gas facilities and pipelines, hydroelectric facilities, and renewable energy facilities – to ensure that energy can get where it is needed, when it is needed. We also support better electric-natural gas coordination,” Steckelberg said.

The energy world received a major infusion of $4.5 billion for its smart grid nine years ago under President Obama’s economic stimulus plan and is eager for comparable game change investments ahead.

Many across the industry anticipate a similar large buildout may be imminent.

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