McMorris Rodgers: Extreme Heatwave Highlights Importance of Reliable Power

Washington, D.C. (June 29, 2021) – Eastern Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) today highlighted the importance of a reliable power grid as the region deals with an extreme heatwave. During today’s Energy Subcommittee hearing, Rodgers renewed her calls for an all-of-the-above energy strategy that would protect affordable, reliable energy and mitigate the threat of future brownouts.

Excerpts and highlights from her prepared remarks are below.

On hydropower delivering reliable energy: 

“Now, what has become clear to the American public over the past year has been the role of state and federal policies that jeopardize affordable, reliable energy and power.

“Keeping the lights on is needed for a prosperous society, and it’s key to lifting people out of poverty and improving our quality of life. Policymakers should not lose sight of that.

“And it’s not just about keeping the lights on. Right now in Eastern Washington and across the Pacific Northwest, it’s about keeping the fans and air conditioning on, too.

“We’re currently experiencing an extreme heatwave. There are emergency cooling centers open in my hometown in Spokane, where temperatures are hovering around 110 [degrees].

“Last night, one of the major utilities in the area notified customers of mandatory outages because it was seeing the second-highest level of demand over the past year.

“We aren’t strangers to extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest. These weather events have solidified the importance of reliable power.

“This past winter, Washington state had a harmful deep freeze that drove up energy demand.

“Fortunately, the four Lower Snake River dams boosted hydroelectric power to meet the need, pick up the slack.

“They picked up the slack when one of the largest dams in the Columbia River system had to shut down — reducing threats of serious power shortages.

“Yet even in Washington State, we face calls to dismantle these important clean energy sources for the sake of radical agendas that fail to prioritize reliable delivery of power for people.

“When these policies undermine affordable, reliable delivery of energy and power, serious harms to public health and safety can follow.”

On the challenges with developing more transmission:

“Meanwhile, the left’s ‘rush to green’ agenda doubles down on wind and solar and builds lots more transmission.

“To meet the Administration’s emissions targets, the push is for massive electrification on an unprecedented scale and pace.

“For the next 15 years and it would amount to a construction program 600 percent larger than any utility build-out we’ve seen in the last half-century.

“You cannot do this without extraordinary mandates and costs on workers and families. That’s why it seems unrealistic, unattainable.

“Testimony before the Committee has already outlined the growing public resistance to siting, permitting, and building new transmission.

“Today, building a new transmission can take 15 years or more. And there are several examples of key projects running into substantial opposition.”

On winning the future with innovation: 

“Which brings us to the CLEAN Future Act, which I am concerned is going to take us backwards to a time before reliable electricity and modern conveniences.

“There are certainly practical reforms to consider for transmission policy, to maximize the reliability benefits of a robust transmission system.

“However, the rush to green incentives and mandates in this legislation may only undermine reliability—and at a great cost.

“The bill seeks to prioritize massive electrification and renewable build-out, without regard to impacts on affordable, reliable power.

“It seeks to make it easier to site transmission while making it harder to build natural gas pipelines, which are critical for renewables.

“Also troubling is the rush to mandate regulatory structures that prioritize weather-dependent energy at the expense of traditional baseload and dispatchable energy.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I am concerned that we are creating an affordability crisis as California-style costs are spread to other regions of the country.

“This is not the way that we move forward with affordable, reliable power. This is not the way to move to a clean energy future.

“We can lead the world in reducing carbon emissions with new American innovation, without jeopardizing reliability and affordable energy.”

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