Bipartisan bill would shield utilities from contradicting statutes

Bipartisan legislation introduced on Friday by Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) would enhance power grid reliability while shielding utilities from contradicting environmental statutes.

The Grid Reliability Act would prevent potential situations in which a utility company is directed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to improve the reliability of a power grid even though doing so would require the company to violate environmental statutes, according to a press release.

“Putting utilities in between regulators with conflicting rules, leaving them with no choice but to violate the law is an unacceptable way for our government to operate,” Blunt said. “This bipartisan bill would protect America’s utilities from unfair environmental fines or citizen lawsuits when the government forces them to operate for reliability purposes, and provide certainty to the people responsible for keeping the lights on.”

Electricity providers have faced lawsuits and fines because of conflicting statutes in recent years.

“This is an issue of common sense and fairness – the government shouldn’t be able to force an entity to take action and then allow it to be punished for that same action,” McCaskill said. “This bipartisan legislation does away with that conflict, allowing utilities to help improve regulated grid reliability without fear of burdensome and conflicting environmental statutes.”