Energy Dept. proposed rulemaking negatively impacts utility providers, says Kelly

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) last week expressed concerns with a U.S. Energy Department proposed rulemaking that he says would severely limit the ability of the nation’s utility providers to ensure grid reliability and security.

Specifically, the proposed rulemaking, entitled “Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Distribution Transformers” — which would mandate the use of amorphous metal (AM) cores instead of Grain-Oriented Electrical Steel (GOES) cores — would make the United States dependent on foreign imports of AM cores.

“AM cores rely on imports of raw materials; a dependency that could leave us susceptible to a variety of disruptions, from production to shipping,” wrote Rep. Kelly in a bipartisan Dec. 6 letter sent to U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “The Department of Commerce has identified this as a threat to national security.”

Currently, there is only one facility in the United States producing GOES, which are used in electrical distribution transformers across the country. That facility is located in Butler, Pa., which is represented by more than 1,300 United Auto Workers employees, according to the letter, which is also signed by U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio (D-PA).

“Implementation of this proposed rule would jeopardize the Butler, Pennsylvania, facility and leave the U.S. electrical grid reliant on imports and potentially cost over 1,500 American jobs,” the lawmakers wrote. 

Rep. Kelly and his colleague also pointed out that finalizing the proposed rule would significantly impact the production of distribution transformers, which are already difficult to obtain.

“Grid security and reliability are vital to our economic and national security,” the congressmen wrote. “We respectfully urge you to make serious modifications that preserve utilization of GOES for transformer cores to the proposed rule.”