Manchin: We’ve Got To Use All Of Our Resources To Ensure Reliable, Affordable, And Resilient Energy Systems

March 11, 2021

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s opening remarks, please click here.

To watch a video of Senator Manchin’s questioning, please click here.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to examine the reliability, resiliency and affordability of electric service in the United States. U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), Chairman of the Committee, stressed the importance of striking the right balance amid the changing energy mix and extreme weather events.

“Our North American electric grid is a marvel of engineering and the envy of the world. But ongoing and increasing changes in the generation mix and outside forces like cyber threats and weather events that test the grid also highlight the importance of a resilient grid. It’s critical that we, State and local governments, and grid operators around the country be two steps ahead in planning for these changes and threats and how to ensure we strike the right balance between resilience, reliability, and affordability,” said Chairman Manchin. “We’ve got to use all the resources we have in the cleanest way possible, but we need to be eyes wide open that none of them are 100% immune to weather disruptions, whether that be freezing wind turbines, disruptions to our natural gas production and delivery systems, or frozen coal stockpiles – all of which we saw happen just last month.”

During the hearing, Chairman Manchin questioned the witnesses on a variety of topics, including on the lack of federal oversight of the energy market in Texas, the recent power outages in Texas, West Virginia, and other parts of the country, and the exorbitant energy bills some customers received in the wake of the storm.

“100,000 of my constituents were without power last month as a result of the winter storm, but it was a different story from what we saw in Texas. In West Virginia, it was because of downed power lines and poles for the most part. Do you believe that lessons learned from 2014 were implemented in a way that lessened the potential impact of the winter storm last month? What are some early lessons learned from last month that will help prevent this from happening again next time?” Chairman Manchin asked.

“West Virginia is a very important part of PJM. I do believe that the lessons from 2011 and 2014 were heard and implemented. I’ll point to 3. We implemented weatherization checklists and reporting back to us for our generators. We implemented underperformance penalties for generators who didn’t meet their commitments. And we implemented much more stringent gas to power coordination. As a result, we saw in 2014 forced outages of 22% of our fleet. Last month, that number was less than 10%. There have been significant improvements directly as a result of those lessons learned,” said Mr. Manu Asthana, President and Chief Executive Officer, PJM Interconnection.

The hearing featured witnesses from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, Western Area Power Administration, Hunt Energy Network, Environmental Progress, and PJM Interconnection. To read their testimony click here.

To watch the hearing in full, please click here.