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Grid modernization bills moving through U.S. Congress

image credit: © Oleksandr Shpak _ Dreamstime_com.jpg

Two bills focused on modernizing the U.S. electrical grid are moving through both houses of Congress, however, it's still uncertain how issues related to the pandemic could impact their schedules. 

S. 2332 was introduced last summer by Sen. Maria Cantwell out of Washington and has picked up co-sponsors as recently as February. The bills aims to initiate much of the work related to modernizing the country's electrical grid, from transmission lines to smart grid technology. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the bill is estimated to cost more than $2 billion between now and the end of the decade. 

HR 5428, introduced in late 2019 by Rep Conor Lamb out of Pennsylvania, focuses on investing in research and development so the Department of Energy can begin working on grid modernization solutions. Just this week, the CBO said the bill would cost roughly $1.2 billion between now and 2025. The bills appear to go hand in hand, although carry differences—Cantwell's Senate Bill aims at implementing changes, Lamb's House Bill seeks to research and develop technologies and strategies for change. 

Seeing support in both Congressional houses is a major step forward for the issue of grid modernization. Following deferred maintenance's role in the 2019 California wildfires, the growing threat of cybersecurity and increasing support for decentralization, moving on grid modernization now will be a crucial step to ensuring the country's energy industry is resilient as we approach the halfway mark of the 21st century. 

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