UCS Urges Bipartisan Congressional Support of BIG WIRES Act to Improve US Electric Grid Reliability

Statement by Sam Gomberg, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Sep 15, 2023

Media Contact

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator John Hickenlooper and Representative Scott Peters introduced The BIG WIRES Act, a bill that would help address the shortfall of transmission capacity in the United States’ electricity system. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) supports the bill that will help ensure grid reliability, lower energy costs, and meet U.S. climate goals.

Below is a statement by Sam Gomberg, transmission policy manager at UCS.

"The BIG WIRES Act is an important piece of legislation aimed at addressing the shortfalls of our nation’s electricity transmission system. The bill will help guarantee more interregional transmission that will serve as an important backbone of an affordable, reliable and equitable grid. The BIG WIRES Act has clear bipartisan value and should be passed swiftly into law given that the benefits of increasing our ability to move power across regions are widely recognized and will serve all communities.

"Additional transmission capacity will also help accelerate the transition to clean energy, a key part of ensuring we meet critical U.S. climate goals and avoid even more extreme weather events that strain the electric grid. There’s still more to be done—regulatory reforms from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to update and improve how we plan and invest in our nation’s electric transmission system are also urgently needed. Congress, the Department of Energy, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission must continue to work together to expand energy transmission while also protecting communities and the environment.”

Additional Resources and Analyses:

  • A blogpost by Gomberg, "Update the Electricity Grid Without Undermining Environmental Protections.”
  • A whitepaper, signed by UCS, Earthjustice, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, and the Natural Resources Defense Council, among others, "Building Transmission to Secure a Clean & Equitable Electricity Grid.”
  • A letter to the Biden administration calling for transmission policy reform: The Principles for Accelerating Clean Energy Deployment Through a Transmission Buildout in an Equitable Clean Energy Future.
  • A blogpost by Gomberg, "Midwest Transmission System Investments Will Be a Game Changer for a Clean Energy Future.”
  • "Equitable Grid Principles” published by a group of community and environmental justice leaders, electric grid analysts, and labor representatives intended to guide electric grid infrastructure decision-making in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) region.