Burr Introduces Bipartisan Electricity Legislation

Burr’s First Bill Will Seek Reliable, Affordable Electricity

March 2, 2005

Senator Richard Burr, along with Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Senator Trent Lott (R-MS), today introduced legislation to increase electricity reliability, upgrade the energy transmission grid and keep electricity rates in the region affordable.

The legislation, the Interstate Transmission Act of 2005, would seek to protect local rate payers and ensure reliable, low cost electricity by making electric reliability standards mandatory, increasing investment in the upgrade of the transmission grid and protecting local electricity customers by preserving states role in regulating electricity costs.

"We often take for granted that our lights will come on when we flip the light switch, but the reality is that our reliability standards and the current state of the transmission grid leave us all vulnerable to blackouts," said Senator Burr. "This legislation is an important step in creating a comprehensive energy plan that will ensure all North Carolinians are able to enjoy reliable - and affordable - electricity. I thank Senators Landrieu and Lott for their leadership on this important legislation."

"I am proud to join Sen. Burr in sponsoring this vital measure to help enhance the reliability of one of our country's most critical infrastructure -- the electrical grid," Senator Landrieu said. "This much-needed legislation will begin paving the way to a true 'electric super-highway.'"

As a Member of the House of Representatives, Burr sponsored two pieces of legislation strengthening electric transmission. H.R. 2814, introduced in the 107th Congress, sought to increased incentives for investing in the energy transmission grid. H.R. 1370, introduced in the 108th Congress, also sought to increase incentives for investing in the electric transmission grid, as well as energy reliability standards. Both pieces of legislation became part of larger, comprehensive energy legislation that was passed by the House.

"As we have seen in the past, disruptions to our energy supplies will have serious consequences for our economy," added Burr. "It is critical that we have a comprehensive energy plan to provide affordable and reliable supplies of energy so that our economy will not be dependent on foreign sources of energy."

Currently, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) oversees the operation of the electric transmission grid and has called for tough federal reliability standards. Although NERC has mandatory reliability standards on the books, the Council does not have the authority to enforce standards or fine utilities for violating standards. If a utility is found to be violating the standard, NERC is limited to conducting a review to find out why the power supplier is not complying.

The Burr/Landrieu/Lott bill will make the standards mandatory and enforceable. Lack of mandatory standards is cited as a major factor that led to the August 2003 northeastern blackout.

For more information, go to https://www.burr.senate.gov.