Project Development

Lawmakers File Bill to Bridge Rural and Urban Renewable Energy Gap

Two members of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, U.S. Representatives Jay Inslee (D-Wash.) and Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), introduced legislation in the House that would make renewable electricity produced in rural areas available to urban energy users.

Specifically, their Rural Clean Energy Superhighways Act would improve electricity transmission from rural areas with significant renewable energy potential. This would spread the cost of construction, maintenance, and operation of infrastructure throughout regions and to all beneficiaries.

“The next trick will be finding a way to get power produced in these rural areas to homes and businesses in Seattle, Shoreline, Silverdale and Spokane,” said Representative Jay Inslee.

In August, the U.S. House passed in its energy independence package a federal Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) for at least 15 percent renewable electricity and efficiency improvements before 2020. Inslee and Blumenauer supported RES initiatives in their respective states, and both supported the RES amendment to the House energy bill.

The Inslee-Blumenauer legislation is modeled, in part, on a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruling issued last April in response to a petition by California Independent System Operator Corporation (CAISO). CAISO originally went to FERC for approval of a financing mechanism to cover the cost of constructing transmission between remotely located wind projects and the rest of their grid. In September, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) introduced a similar bill, S. 2076, the Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act.