Rural electric co-o in the USA have welcomed the Biden administration’s latest steps to accelerate the production of energy technology and equipment.
On 6 June President Biden authorised the US Department of Energy (DOE) to use the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate domestic production of five key energy technologies: solar; transformers and electric grid components; heat pumps; insulation; and electrolisers, fuel cells, and platinum group metals.
This will allow the US to “take ownership of its clean energy independence,” said secretary of energy Jennifer Granholm. “For too long the nation’s clean energy supply chain has been over-reliant on foreign sources and adversarial nations. With the new DPA authority, DOE can help strengthen domestic solar, heat pump and grid manufacturing industries while fortifying America’s economic security and creating good-paying jobs, and lowering utility costs along the way.”
Deputy secretary of defense Kathleen Hicks assed: “Reducing America’s dependence on gas and oil is critical to national security.
“In conflict, fossil fuel supply lines are especially vulnerable. The actions President Biden announced today will help strengthen our supply chains and ensure that the United States is a leader in producing the energy technologies that are essential to our future success. They will also help accelerate DoD’s transition toward clean energy technologies that can help strengthen military capability while creating good jobs for American workers.”
Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) said that the country’s electric co-ops have already raised “serious questions about supply chain disruptions to materials necessary for reliable operation of the nation’s electric infrastructure”.
“In particular, shortages of transformers pose a risk to normal electric grid operations as well as recovery efforts for systems disrupted by a natural disaster,” he added. “The Biden administration’s use of the DPA to shorten lead times for supplies of electric transformers is a much-needed step to support reliability and resilience, and NRECA urges inclusion of all stakeholders in the implementation process as well as additional measures to avoid unnecessary interruptions to electric grid operations.”
Mr Matheson, whose organisation represents 900 electric co-ops across the US, warned that assessment work has revealed potential challenges to electric reliability in several states, and NRECA and its members have sought relief for supply chain shortages across the electric sector.
“That’s particularly true in fast-growing areas of our country and where severe storms threaten our commitment to reliable electricity for 42 million electric co-operative members,” he added.
“America’s electric co-operatives look forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration and Congress to reduce supply chain vulnerabilities in the short term while we increase domestic capability to meet our future needs. American families and businesses rightfully expect the lights to stay on at a price they can afford. A diverse energy mix that includes adequate baseload supply and an assured supply chain are essential to meet those expectations.”
DOE and the White House said they would continue to convene relevant industry, labour, and community stakeholders to maximise the impact of the DPA tools made available by Mr Biden.