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McNerney Sponsors Measure to Speed Development of U.S. Smart Grid

Smart Grid

July 15, 2013

McNerney Sponsors Measure to Speed Development of U.S. Smart Grid

By Cheryl Kaften
TMCnet Contributor

On July 11, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton), a member of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce,  introduced the Smart Grid Advancement Act of 2013 (H.R. 2685), stating, “:In order to prevent the worst impacts of climate change, we must transition to lower-carbon energy systems. Making the necessary investments in the nation’s smart grid is one way to facilitate this transition.”

The measure is designed to move forward the development of a more efficient electrical grid. The bill tasks states and utility entities with establishing goals for reducing electrical use during peak times through the use of smart grid technologies. 

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In addition, H.R. 2685 also would enhance the Energy Star Program— an initiative that gives consumers the tools to purchase energy efficient and cost-saving appliances. To date, the program has labeled commonly used appliances, such as washing machines and refrigerators, with information about their energy efficiency. The Smart Grid Advancement Act would better integrate smart grid features into the Energy Star Program.

“Increasing the use of smart grid technologies will help reduce use when demand for power is at its highest. That, in turn, will help save consumers money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rep. McNerney.

Rep. McNerney, who was elected in 2007, is the only Congressman with hands-on experience in the renewable energy. After serving for several years as an engineering contractor to Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, in 1990 McNerney moved with his family to California to accept a senior engineering position with U.S. Windpower, Kenetech. McNerney later began working as an energy consultant for PG&E (News - Alert), FloWind, the Electric Power Research Institute, and other utility companies. Prior to his election to Congress, he formed a start-up company to manufacture wind turbines. During his career in wind energy, McNerney’s work contributed to saving the equivalent of approximately 30 million barrels of oil, or 8.3 million tons of carbon dioxide.

Smart grid investments, Rep. McNerney stressed, already are “producing real economic benefits.” He pointed to the Department of Energy’s recently released report, “The Economic Impact of Recovery Act Investments” as proof—noting that the study had found that, “for every million dollars of direct spending on smart grid, the nation’s GDP [gross domestic product] increased by $2.5 million. In addition, a wide variety of industrial sectors have benefited from these smart grid investments.”

Specifically, the Congressman emphasized that investment in Smart Grid projects has resulted in almost $7 billion in total economic output, benefitting a wide variety of industrial sectors and creating 47,000 jobs.

“In order to better utilize our energy resources, we must become more efficient and transition to lower carbon energy systems.  Making necessary investments in the nation’s Smart Grid is one way to facilitate this transition,” said Rep. McNerney.  “If we take action now, smart grid will create family-wage jobs, produce real economic benefits, increase energy efficiency, and allow for renewable energy technologies to be more easily integrated into our system. “

“There is much to do in terms of policy initiatives that deliver greater benefits from smart grid, demand response and energy efficiency”, said Dan Delurey, executive director of the Washington,DC-based trade association, the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (DRSG). “DRSG is pleased to see Congressman McNerney moving to do just that via the bill he is introducing today. His focus on reducing peak demand is particularly important, as a significant amount of the nation’s electricity costs come from only a few days per year when electricity demand can skyrocket and reliability can be threatened due to temperature or other factors. All consumers pay that extra cost one way or the other, so reducing peak demand is therefore an important strategy that this bill will get people focused on.”

The Smart Grid Advancement Act is cosponsored by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Penn.).

Edited by Rich Steeves

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