Bipartisan Support for IBEW on Grid Reliability
March 25, 2014
U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), members of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, are actively supporting a request from IBEW, the United Mineworkers Union, the Utility Workers and others to hold a hearing on the stability and reliability of the nation’s electrical grid.
Facing the shutdowns of unprecedented numbers of coal-fired power plants, displacing tens of thousands of workers, the unions question whether alternate forms of energy are sufficient to immediately meet peak demand driven by extreme weather events.
In a letter to Energy Committee Chair Mary Landrieu (D.-La.) and ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Manchin and Portman say, “This is a timely request, as an extremely cold winter in the Midwest and mid-Atlantic created an unprecedented demand for electricity and pushed the region’s electricity grid to the limits.”
On January 7, PJM, the regional transmission organization, set a winter peak demand record and fell below its generation reserve requirement. “If blackouts or brownouts had occurred,” say the senators, “It would have endangered public health and safety across the country and cost our economy significant dollars in lost productivity.”
Recognizing questions raised by the unions about the sufficiency of alternate power sources, the senators say, “We respectfully request that the committee convene a hearing to explore the issues raised by the unions regarding: federal regulations; the shift in producing electricity from coal to producing electricity from natural gas, wind and solar,” and other factors.
“We thank Senators Manchin and Portman for hearing the concerns of the IBEW, our fellow trade unionists and all Americans who want a responsible national energy policy that effectively balances the need to develop new, cleaner forms of power production with avoiding catastrophic blackouts and brownouts from premature shutdowns of essential sources,” says International President Edwin D. Hill.