EPSA Joins 350 Leading Business Groups Calling on Congress to Pass Meaningful Permitting Reform
U.S. Capitol Building is home of the United States Congress. iStock/lucky-photographer
Tomorrow, the U.S. House of Representatives will begin floor debate over H.R. 1, a consolidation of several targeted bills focused on domestic energy production and improving the permitting and siting process for energy infrastructure. The House is expected to approve H.R. 1 by week’s end. In addition to releasing its own policy position on the importance of permitting reform in February, EPSA joined the U.S. Chamber of Congress and nearly 350 other organizations in sending a letter to Congress this morning, calling on Congress to “Permit America to Build” and pass meaningful, durable permitting reform before the end of summer.
EPSA believes that well-functioning competitive wholesale electricity markets are the best foundation to reliably power American homes and businesses at the lowest cost to consumers. Competitive markets foster innovation and reduce emissions, allowing our power grid to deliver on the needs of the future. With the rapid rise of electrification and extreme weather, the U.S. power system faces peak usage like never before.
This is why EPSA supports meaningful reforms to the permitting process and bipartisan action to make sure our electrical grid is reliable, affordable, and ready to meet future demand.
EPSA’s members own and operate approximately 20 percent of the installed generating capacity in the United States, including natural gas, wind, solar, battery storage, and nuclear resources. Our members have participated in regional wholesale electricity markets for decades and have invested billions of dollars of private capital to build and interconnect new generation assets in every ISO/RTO region without a guaranteed rate of return.
But as it stands today, the permitting process is filled with inefficiencies and uncertainty, damaging the chances of new energy infrastructure projects receiving much needed private funding because of a lack of transparency and certainty that regulatory processes will be completed fairly and within a reasonable, predetermined time frame.
Congress can help remedy this issue by passing legislation that will make meaningful changes to the permitting process.
First, by building a more efficient review process that strikes a balance between environmental protection and building the essential infrastructure needed to maintain a reliable and clean electric grid. As it stands today, review processes under the National Environmental Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water Act can face unreasonable delays. Environmental protection is critical to our future and an important part of how we address climate change, but greater intra-government coordination among relevant agencies is needed to complete reviews in a timely manner. This is not about hollowing out or degrading those environmental standards and this is not about predetermining outcomes. But greater efficiency and transparency is critical to seeing future investment in the entire spectrum of generation resources.
Accepting natural gas’ role in the energy transition is another critical part of permitting reform. The notion that the clean energy transition is a zero-sum game does not reflect reality. Extreme weather situations in the last couple of years have proven that our power grids desperately need flexible, dispatchable, energy-secure generation to function properly.
These sources of energy can work in tandem with weather-dependent, non-dispatchable resources and fill in the gaps to ramp up production and deliver on energy when it is desperately needed. This past September, California turned to natural gas during an extreme heatwave that saw spikes in demand in the evening- when solar energy was no longer producing. Without dispatchable power sources like natural gas at the ready, Californians would have faced the severe consequences of extreme heat. Both conventional and renewable sources of power will be needed as electrification ramps up and extreme weather events become more commonplace. This outlook is echoed by each ISO/RTO, NERC and FERC- organizations with an in-depth understanding of reliability.
Permitting reform can ensure that the right energy infrastructure- both clean generation and balancing resources- is being built in a timely manner. Advocates for clean energy and for dispatchable energy will benefit from a streamlined permitting process.
Investments in critical fuel infrastructure will also be essential. Natural gas infrastructure must be recognized as an essential element of the electricity production supply chain. Ensuring adequate supply and coordination of delivery, especially in extreme weather situations, will be critical to maintaining electric grid reliability. Natural gas is vital to balancing intermittent generation on the grid, and future investments in resources in this balancing generation will be required to continue fueling that capacity.
Large investments, from the private and public sector, will be needed to build the electrical grid of the 21st century. Private investors require a higher level of certainty and transparency that regulatory processes will be completed within a reasonable, predetermined time frame. This certainty does not currently exist in the permitting process, limiting infrastructure investment.
EPSA and its members have engaged with Congressional leadership extensively over the years on permitting-related issues and we look forward to continuing that work. EPSA is hopeful that a bipartisan solution can be found this year to ensure that the electric grid continues to meet Americans’ needs for affordable, reliable and clean electricity.
Click here to learn more about EPSA’s policy priorities for permitting reform.