Bill Would Help Prevent Outages from California Wildfires, Texas Freezes
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today,
U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas)
introduced bipartisan legislation to help weatherize electrical grids
across the nation. The POWER ON Act would
assist electricity providers and suppliers with federal funding to
protect their facilities and infrastructure against future extreme
weather events, including heatwaves, droughts and wildfires
in California, and freezing temperatures in Texas.
Last year, California faced some of the largest, record-breaking wildfires in state history. 6 of the top 10 most
destructive fires in California occurred in the past three years and at
least three of those fires were triggered by utility equipment.
Additionally, from 2013 to the end of 2019, California experienced
over 57,000 wildfires and
the three large energy companies in the state conducted 33 public
safety power shutoffs. Millions of Californians were left without power
for days on end, leaving communities at risk.
“Once-in-a-generation weather events are now becoming a regular occurrence,” said Sen. Padilla. “Whether
it be public safety power shutoffs or electric system failures due
to extreme weather events, we must invest in
grid resilience and modernization in order to keep the power on in
impacted communities. We can’t leave another family in the dark
during wildfire season or without heat in a blizzard. That’s why
Senator Cornyn and I are proposing these necessary,
smart investments to strengthen our electric grid
and create jobs to boost our economy in the process.”
we face subzero temperatures, gale force winds, or any other type of
extreme weather, Texas’s electric grid must be able to withstand the
impact,” said Sen. Cornyn. “This
bipartisan legislation is an outstanding start to ensure the
life-threatening outages Texans endured this February won’t happen
Representatives Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.),
Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), Kevin Brady
(R-Texas), and Michael Burgess (R-Texas) introduced companion language
in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Summary of the POWER ON Act:
On Grid Resiliency Grants:
POWER ON Act of 2021 would provide electric grid resilience grants
through the U.S. Department of Energy to states and Indian Tribes to
carry out projects that enhance the physical resilience of the electric
- Grants will be formula based, as determined by the Secretary of Energy, and allocated annually through an application process.
may be used for activities, technologies, equipment, and hardening
measures to enable the electric grid to better withstand the effects of
extreme weather, wildfires, or any other natural disaster.
- Grants will not be provided for new construction but rather to strengthen existing infrastructure, technologies, and equipment.
providers may not seek any cost recovery, through raising rates or
otherwise, for projects funded through this program.
- The bill authorizes $100,000,000 annually for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.
On Grid Resilience Research and Development:
POWER ON Act of 2021 would also provide competitive grants for
research, development, demonstration, and commercial application
activities to improve the resilience of the electric grid.
may be used for developing technologies to withstand and address the
current and projected impact on electric grid infrastructure of extreme
weather, wildfires, or any other natural disaster.