The bipartisan Grid Innovation Caucus plans to hold educational seminars and a Grid Innovation Expo to highlight emerging technologies and ensure the resiliency of the U.S. power network.
A bipartisan pair of House lawmakers announced on Wednesday that they have relaunched the Grid Innovation Caucus for the 118th Congress, with a focus on modernizing grid technologies and safeguarding the U.S. power system from cyber, physical and environmental threats.
The caucus — co-chaired by Reps. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, and Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash. — will work to enhance the security and reliability of the nation’s electric grid by “increasing institutional understanding of grid complexities, identifying opportunities for productive and bipartisan engagement and highlighting the constructive role technological innovation can play in bolstering grid infrastructure,” according to a press release.
“From increasing efficiency to meet our growing energy needs to implementing modernized defenses that protect against cyberattacks, there is much work to be done to safeguard this critical infrastructure,” Latta said in a statement.
The caucus was first launched in 2014 by former Reps. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., and Jerry McNerney, D-Calif. Latta, alongside McNerney, co-chaired the caucus during the 117th Congress.
Latta’s office told Nextgov/FCW that the caucus will focus its work during the current Congress, in part, on the importance of utilizing new technologies to ensure that Americans have access to affordable and uninterrupted energy services, as well as hosting discussions between public and private stakeholders to identify and mitigate vulnerabilities within the grid system.
In a statement, Strickland said that “strengthening our nation's energy grid is necessary for a cleaner and more energy-efficient future that supports good-paying jobs, strengthens domestic power production and decreases the frequency of power outages in our communities.”
Both lawmakers’ offices noted that the caucus is planning to hold a series of events over the course of the 118th Congress, including hosting educational seminars on grid security and supply chain resiliency, producing a quarterly newsletter and organizing a Grid Innovation Expo in the fall to highlight current and emerging grid technologies.
“Since the caucus was just relaunched, the chairs and members continue to have ongoing discussions as to what policy recommendations to make,” Strickland spokesperson Alice Nam told Nextgov/FCW. “The caucus will consider bipartisan solutions to ensuring strong, efficient grid infrastructure.”
Concerns about Americans’ access to reliable electric services have grown in recent years as a result of increasing power demands, climate change and both physical and digital threats targeting the grid system.
Electrical substations in North Carolina, Washington state and other localities have been intentionally attacked by vandals over the past year, and lawmakers have likewise warned of the cyber risks that adversarial nations pose to the nation’s electric grid.