Energy organizations urge restored funding to prevent blackouts

February 19, 2004

WASHINGTON (19 February 2004) - The Administration and Congress should restore $26 million in funding for Department of Energy (DOE) base programs into research and development on electricity transmission and distribution in FY 2004, according to a coalition of energy organizations, industry leaders and experts coordinated by IEEE-USA.

Further, in an open letter to Congress and the Administration, the group urged identifying grid-related research as a clear national priority, warranting research funding "commensurate with the importance of the task of revitalizing the nation's power grid."

Despite growing recognition of the need for grid investment in the wake of August 2003's major American and Canadian blackout, final FY 2004 congressional budgetary actions resulted in an effective 33 percent cut in funding for DOE base research program related to the electric grid.

"The August blackout was a clarion call to increase, not decrease, investment in infrastructure and R&D to modernize and upgrade the power grid," IEEE-USA President John Steadman said. "The nation's economy and national security depends on a reliable and affordable supply of electricity to consumers and industry."

"Electricity reliability is critical to the nation's economy, security and sustenance of modern life," the coalition noted. Given the difficulties associated with expanding the grid using conventional approaches, it urged increased funding for "new technologies and control strategies that can increase the capacity of existing pathways."

According to IEEE-USA, necessary investments to assure reliability and avoid future blackouts requires not only the construction of additional power lines and generating plants, but also innovation and the development of new technologies and control strategies to improve system reliability.

The letter to Congress and the Administration is available at http://www.ieeeusa.org/forum/issues/electricreliability/openletter.pdf.

The coalition includes the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (www.aceee.org), the Coalition for the Commercial Application of Superconductors (http://www.ccasweb.org), the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions- Industry Advisory Board (http://certs.lbl.gov/), the Electric Power Supply Association (www.epsa.org), the Electricity Storage Association (http://www.electricitystorage.org/), the Energy Storage Council (www.energystoragecouncil.org/), the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (http://www.nema.org), the Power Systems Engineering Research Center (http://www.pserc.wisc.edu), the U.S. Combined Heat and Power Association (www.nemw.org/uschpa/), industry leaders and experts.
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IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., created in 1973 to advance the public good, while promoting the careers and public-policy interests of the more than 225,000 electrical, electronics, computer and software engineers who are U.S. members of the IEEE. The IEEE is the world's largest technical professional society. For more information, go to http://www.ieeeusa.org.

IEEE-USA

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