DOT, Congress evaluate options, send signals on infrastructure investment

By Harper Gay posted 07-18-2017 09:30


Harper Gay, IDEA
July 17, 2017

Recently, leadership of the U.S. Senate cut the annual August recess in half. Senators will plan to work through the second week of August in an attempt to make progress on legislative priorities like health-care, a budget resolution, and raising the federal debt ceiling.

o-WASHINGTON-DC-facebook.jpgInfrastructure remains a topic of interest, although further down the list of priorities for both Congress and the Administration. Last week, Elaine Chao, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, spoke with business leaders about an infrastructure investment package while in Ohio. She outlined the package’s principles and stressed the importance of private-public partnerships. Find her comments here.

The Senate’s Environment & Public Works (EPW) Committee took up the topic of innovative financing methods to improve infrastructure on July 12. EPW Committee Chairman Senator Barrasso highlighted the differing realities for projects in rural and urban areas. While testimony focused largely on transportation-specific projects, the mechanisms and programs discussed could be applicable for critical energy infrastructure projects as well. Senator Barrasso’s opening remarks can be found here.

IDEA was also on Capitol Hill last week. Tuesday, July 11 IDEA’s Rob Thornton discussed district energy at the 20th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy Efficiency Expo on Capitol Hill. Hosted by the House and Senate Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucuses and the Sustainable Energy Coalition, the event brought together businesses, trade associations, and government agencies to showcase renewable energy and energy efficiency initiatives. In addition, Rob met with three House offices to discuss the IDEA Infrastructure Inventory and our interest in having district energy/CHP included in the investment package.

Looking ahead this week, the House Energy & Commerce Committee will hold a hearing titled, “Powering America: Examining the State of the Electric Industry through Market Participant Perspectives” and the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources (ENR) will hold a hearing to “examine the status and outlook for U.S. and North American energy and resource security” on July 18. Lists of those testifying at each hearing can be found here: House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing; Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources hearing

Stay tuned for more district energy, CHP, and Microgrid legislative news as Congress works through its “to-do” list this summer.

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