Up next in November: Here’s what we’re lobbying Congress for
CCL’s virtual fall conference on November 4–5 and lobby days on November 6–10 are fast approaching. CCL staff have determined the best “asks” for those lobby meetings and prepared trainings about those asks so you can get up to speed.
On Monday, October 23, CCL’s Vice President of Government Affairs Ben Pendergrass and Senior Director of Government Affairs Jenn Tyler provided an overview of the primary and secondary asks, discussing why each bill is important and timely for CCL’s November lobbying efforts. Watch it here, or read on for a recap:
Primary ask: Cosponsor the BIG WIRES Act
Our primary ask this November is for members of Congress to cosponsor the BIG WIRES Act, which is the next step forward on clean energy permitting reform.
To help you understand the ins and outs of this BIG WIRES Act, Research Coordinator Dana Nuccitelli gave an in-depth training on this bill on Oct. 19:
As Dana explained in his training, electrical transmission lines are a key climate solution. They allow us to connect more clean affordable electricity to the grid while improving energy security and avoiding power blackouts. That’s especially important in an age when climate change is bringing more extreme weather events that are increasingly straining our existing grid infrastructure. And exchanging more cheap clean electricity between states reduces both electricity prices and climate pollution.
But in many parts of the country, the power grid lacks the interconnections and capacity needed to exchange enough electricity between regions. That leaves many states vulnerable to blackouts and high electricity prices, while also limiting how much new clean energy the power grid can handle. The BIG WIRES Act would help solve these problems by requiring that most regions of the country increase their capacity to exchange electricity with their neighbors.
Specifically, the bill requires that by the end of 2035, regions increase their ability to import and export electricity from neighboring regions to 30% of their peak load (their largest demand for electricity in a given year), or at least increase it by 15% in regions that currently have very little interconnection capacity. Texas is exempted from these requirements because the state has its own autonomous power grid, but can voluntarily comply if Texans so choose. Hawaii and Alaska are also not interconnected to other states because of their unique geographies.
But representatives from these states might still choose to co-sponsor the BIG WIRES Act because the stability and security it will add to the power grid would benefit the entire country. The other 47 states would be burdened with fewer power outages while enjoying lower electricity prices and less climate and air pollution. And the BIG WIRES Act is technology neutral, because all types of electricity generation would benefit from having more transmission lines available, and the bill doesn’t specify how grid operators should increase their transmission capacity. They can meet those requirements by building new transmission lines, upgrading existing lines, adding other grid-enhancing technologies, or reducing electricity demand in their regions by improving energy efficiency, for example.
Another perk? The BIG WIRES Act doesn’t cost the government a dime. Utilities and transmission developers will bear the costs of building and upgrading transmission lines, but research suggests that the savings from being able to share more cheap clean energy will outweigh the costs of the transmission upgrades. BIG WIRES is a win-win-win.
Secondary ask: Cosponsor the RISEE Act
The secondary asks build on the support for a couple of bills we’ve been steadily supporting in past lobby days and outreach efforts. First let’s look at the bipartisan Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act.
As Ben and Jenn explained in their training above, this bill would share some of the revenue from offshore wind leases between the federal and coastal state governments. That revenue would fund coastal infrastructure and resilience efforts to safeguard vulnerable communities and businesses most threatened by sea level rise and coastal erosion.
The RISEE Act made some progress last year, when it was reported out of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. We lobbied on the RISEE Act last fall to help it move forward. Then, it was reintroduced in the House and the Senate in February, which we celebrated and used as an opportunity to contact Congress to build even more support. With offshore wind projects currently facing supply chain and cost challenges, the RISEE Act could help by giving coastal states more motivation to encourage these clean energy developments. Let’s give it another push!
Secondary ask: Cosponsor the Increased TSP Access Act
Another secondary ask for this fall is for members of Congress to cosponsor the bipartisan Increased Technical Service Provider (TSP) Access Act. This bill would address the current shortage of TSPs, which is impacting the ability of agricultural producers to fully utilize current conservation and climate programs.
The Increased TSP Access Act could be incorporated into the Farm Bill next year. The Farm Bill only comes around once every five years, and we already laid a solid foundation by contacting Congress about the bill earlier this year, so let’s keep this moving forward in our meetings next week.
How can you help?
Whether you’re planning to lobby next week or not, you can lend your voice to the effort by calling Congress about the BIG WIRES Act right now! Your calls will show your members of Congress that this legislation matters to their constituents, and the CCLers in your area will reinforce that message with their upcoming lobby meetings.
Since this bill is our primary ask, this is the best place to focus your outreach, but if you want to give a boost to the secondary asks too, you can send messages about the RISEE Act or the Increased TSP Access Act as well.
Want to take things a step further? How about participating in a lobby meeting yourself! Log into CCL Community for guidance about the meeting setting process and how to get plugged in.