tv [untitled] CSPAN June 16, 2009 5:30am-6:00am EDT
which the house will soon vote will revolutionize our nation's energy policy, creating millions of jobs. saving consumers billions in energy costs and unleashing trillions in new investment. the 21st century grid will play a central role in the revolution. we enabling the electrifying our transportation system. and multiplying energy through smart grid technologies. this bill recognizes the role by establishing a new frame work. to plan the grid of the future. we tax the regulatory commission with establishing national grid plan principles, which will used to support and coordinate regional planning processes
emphasizes, one of the greatest obstacles is not a lack of federal authority, but rather uncertainty as to what energy policy that grid must serve. by establishing a national new standard, a firm cap on carbon pollution and efficiency programs, the waxman bill will provide the certainty needed to guide private, state, and regional development of the transmission system of tomorrow. second, look before you leap. transitions is among the most complex and controversial aspects of energy policy. today's hearing is literally the first hearing in this committee,
in this congress, or the last congress, on transmission. we cannot afford to take a ready, fire, aim approach in this area. further, there appears to be little common ground amongst core stake holders. to give just one example. we invited the edison electric institute, which represents investor owned utilities that own most of the nation's transition to testify today. eei cordially declined. in part because it was unable to agree on a witness to represent the district views of its membership. the testimony before us confirms it's very tough to find agreement in this area. to a man with a hammer, everything looks like the a
nail. this is ill suited to address the problems at hands. for example, the western governor's association will testify today that "western governors see little benefit in preempting state transmission line permitting processes because this major hurdle for permitting transmissions in the west has been securing other federal agencies. in other words, it's the federal government, not the states, that is the problem. from the perspective of the western governors. several in the east emphasize federal planning authority. could undermine regional efforts to develop renewable resources and encourage expansion of high carbon generation in the midwest. we need to take time, take a careful look at this and see what really makes sense.
today's hearing is an excellent beginning to the process. we have a great lineup of witnesses. and i look forward to their testimony. i would like now to turn to a matter related to the subject of today's hearing, which has been brought to my attention. after i agreed, last month, to hold an oversight hearing on the subject of electricity transmission and the question of whether to adopt additional new legislation in this area, in addition to the regional transmission planning language already in the bill, i directed my staff to obtain additional information about two important provisions of the 2005 policy act that also dealt with transmission and which are directly relevant to today's hearing. as part of the effort, the sub committee sent two letters to the federal regulatory commission. the first letter, dated june 3rd, dealt with the impact of the 2005 bills incentive rate
provision on the construction of new transmission around the country. that letter was sent out last week. the second later, dated june 9th, dealt with the impact of the 2005 bill's repeal on the construction of new transmission. that letter was sent out tuesday. neither letter was related in any way to the allocation hearing that the sub committee held on tuesday on mid american holding ceo david's testimony before the sub committee. they were being drafted prior to being aware that he would be a witness at the tuesday hearing. both letters with aimed at helping the sub committee. the letter contained eight questions. two of which referenced a comment in support of the
appeal. this is a leading opponent. however, these questions were in no way seeking to intimidate him in any way for his appearance before the sub committee earlier this week. the day following the release of the letter, i heard from representative barton that minority leaders had concerns about the questions related to him and the timing of the letters released. i made it clear there was no attempt to intimidate any witness. i sent a second letter to burke clarify i clarifying they should respond to the questions generically and not just look at mid americans specifically. a shared a draft of the letter mr. barton's staff and mr.
terry's staff on wednesday night. immediately after they brought this issue to my attention. i responded immediately to their concerns. finally i reached out to inform him of what any intent was, toe clear up the understanding and make it absolutely clear that neither he nor his company are the focus of the sub committee's inquiry. so i want to say to mr. barton, to mr. upon the ento the members on the other side of the aisle publicly what i already said to them privately. i would never seek to intimidate or retaliate against a person from having to come in and testify before the sub committee. i value the perspectives all of
our witnesses bring. i regret any misunderstanding or misimpressions that the contents of the letter or the timing may have raised. that's why i immediately after learning of the minority concerns prepared a second letter to direct them to respond generically to the questions rather than focusing on mid american. that's why i addressed him directly. which i have done. joe and fred and the other members, i want to let you know i have the personal greatest regard for you. in no way do i want to leave an impression that we would conduct hearings that were not fair and open to all of the members of the sub committee or the
witnesses who appear at this meeting. now turn to recognize the gentleman from michigan. mr. upton. >> like many members on this side i do value your friendship. realize that we're good adversaries on a number of fronts. and we've been together on a number of fronts. i know that it is very important that there is no intention to intimidate or pressure witnesses to testify in something that they perhaps don't believe in. i for one appreciate your zamt this morning. i appreciate you calling for the hearing on national transmission policy today. the electricity grid is of vital importance to the nation. we all know that. however it's an area often
overlooked. as evidenced by the fact there was only minor mention of transmission in the waxman climate bill. and that today we're having our first really big transmission hearing. we do have a long and distinguished panel today. i would like to thanks all the witnesses for joining us. special recognition to two michigan-based companies. dave and joe. i know we don't exactly see eye-to-eye on the issue but hoping we can all work together. this committee passed a sizable renewable electricity mandate without any question to getting the renewable electricity to population centers. the strongest sun exposure in
low population areas as well. it's centered in areas of high population, and there are inadequate high voltage lines to the areas with the most abundant sources of renewable power. if we're going to be serious about renewable power, we have to revamp the grid. to properly do so we'll have to block lawsuits from environmental groups that have increased costs and block much needed transmission lines. let's put it in perspective. according to doe it would cost 60 billion in new transmission lines to reach the 20% mark for wind power. it could cost perhaps as much as $400 billion in transmission lines. if we're serious we must block the lawsuits and make real investments in the needed infrastructure. good example of these lawsuits is found in california. the proposed sunrise power link
at southern california will connect the region to existing and proposed renewable energy sources. whether they be wind, solar, or geothermal. perhaps as much as 2 million megawatts of geothermal power in the area. without new power lines the clean green energy could not be delivered to its customers. studies show that the line will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 1.3 million tons. various environmental groups are fighting it. the remote areas are often the best. transmission lines are needed to get energy to consumers. it's a mistake to legislate a
costly renewable mandate without addressing the transmission issue. with all of that said, we must also recognize that many ru e renewable energy sources are unreliable and can bring instability to the grid. transmission lines cannot distinguish between the green electrons or the brown ones. we just can't be planning the transmission system for renewables. we have to take all sources into account. wind, nuclear, coal, everything else. changes need to be made to the current regulatory system. we must also be mindful of the cost. consumers need to understand what they're going to pay for and what they're getting for their hard-earned money. consumers will already have increased rate increases. these costs will only go up
under the waxman bill. >> time has expired. we recognize the gentleman from washington state. >> thank you, mr. chair. thanks both for holding this hearing and your great work. i think that bill is a tremendous mosaic. but it's missing one critical piece. that's the piece to help us spur the development truly of a 21st century national grid. we have to recognize that today, despite the tremendous efforts of people in the field, we have a grid fit for the 19th or 20th century, but not for the new challenges of the new american