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ICYMI: Hickenlooper Bill Solution to Debt Ceiling Impasse

May 25, 2023

Legislation would speed permitting reform for electrical transmission

In case you missed it, Politico, the Washington PostAssociated Press, and others reported that U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper’s forthcoming Building Integrated Grids With Inter-Regional Energy Supply (BIG WIRES) Act—legislation to speed permitting reform—was being discussed as a compromise solution in debt ceiling negotiations.

The bill would direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to better coordinate construction of an interstate transmission system to avoid haphazard, patchwork upgrades to the grid. The legislative proposal would cost the government no money. Instead, utilities and other transmission developers would be responsible for upgrading the grid. Because interregional transmission makes the grid operate more efficiently, money spent on new lines would be more than offset by savings on numerous smaller transmission projects.

The bill is being developed in tandem with Representative Scott Peters, and formal introduction in the Senate is expected soon. View a one-page summary of the legislation here.

Check out the coverage below:

Politico: A debt deal appears to be getting closer

“In another development, an energy transmission bill from Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) called the BIG Wires Act is under serious consideration for a final package, according to the person briefed.”

Washington Post: Lawmakers near deal on energy permitting in debt ceiling talks

The transmission proposal would be based on forthcoming legislation from Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.) and Sen. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.)known as the Building Integrated Grids With Inter-Regional Energy Supply (Big Wires) Act. The measure seeks to encourage the construction of transmission lines by requiring regions to transfer at least 30 percent of their peak electricity demand between each other…”

Bloomberg Gov: Faster Energy Permits Being Eyed as Part of Debt-Ceiling Deal

“This is where adding transmission legislation pushed by Colorado Democratic Senator John Hickenlooper comes in. The legislation, known as the Building Integrated Grids with Inter-Regional Energy Supply Act, would require regions to be able to transfer at least 30% of their peak demand between each other, a move that would encourage more large-scale interregional transmission, according to a summary.”

AP: Debt ceiling talks teeter on the brink, as lawmakers leave town for weekend without a deal

“The teams are also eyeing a proposal to boost energy transmission line development from Sen. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., that would facilitate the buildout of an interregional power grid…”


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