In Hearing on Hurricane Maria Recovery Efforts, King Calls for Development of 21st Century Energy Grid as Part of U.S. Islands Restoration Efforts

King announces support for Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), a member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), today announced his support for the Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act, legislation that would encourage the building of more resilient energy systems in response to the natural disasters declared during 2017. Senator King’s support for the legislation follows a hearing before the ENR Committee today on recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which left millions of U.S. citizens without power for weeks on end.

            “I think we’re all agreed here it doesn’t make sense to rebuild a 1980s grid when we have an opportunity, when we have renewables, when the economics of renewables are so much better,” Senator King said. “[…]Clearly we need to amend Stafford so that it’s not simply ‘rebuild what was there before.’[…]This is an extraordinary opportunity for our country to see what a modern grid can and should look like.”

The Rebuilding Resilient Energy Systems Act would amend the Stafford Act, comprehensive legislation that allocates federal natural disaster assistance to state and local governments, to stipulate that funds granted to repair energy systems may be used to build more modern and resilient infrastructure. This would maximize the use of clean energy resources and energy storage technologies, and could lower the costs of energy bills for American citizens. This would also help address the key concerns raised by leaders of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands during today’s hearing.   

Following the several significant natural disasters this fall, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, Senator King supported both disaster relief packages that have come to a vote to aid affected states and territories with their rebuilding efforts. The first aid package, passed in September, approved $15.25 billion in disaster relief funding. The second disaster relief package, passed in October, approved $36.5 billion in aid to affected areas.

Through his work on the ENR Committee, Senator King has continually pushed for cost-effective strategies to strengthen U.S. energy systems and support modern opportunities to make the grid more resilient. In September, Senator King announced his support for the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that would establish an investment tax credit (ITC) for business and home use of energy storage. In 2015, the Senator also introduced legislation that would set national targets for energy storage in order to meet the growing demand on the electric grid and encourage the integration of solar and wind energy. Senator King also introduced the Free Market Energy Act, which would establish a set of parameters for the governance of distributed energy resources, like storage and solar.