Barrasso Bill Would Protect Availability of Critical Transformers

June 15, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (ENR), today introduced S. 2036, the Protecting America's Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act. Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) is an original cosponsor of the legislation.

“The Biden administration’s extreme green regulations continue to threaten American families. Our nation already faces a shortage of distribution transformers, which are essential for delivering electricity. Communities need transformers now,” Barrasso said. “This disastrous new Biden proposal would make the shortage worse. Unless Congress stops this regulation, electric service will suffer and costs will increase. This legislation will help ensure we have critical electrical components that help keep costs down and the lights on.”

Barrasso’s bill is the Senate companion to legislation introduced by Representative Richard Hudson (R-NC). The measure would prohibit the Department of Energy (DOE) from issuing revised energy efficiency rules for distribution transformers for at least five years. DOE proposed a revised standard in January, 2023.

Statements of support for the Protecting America's Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act

“At a time when the home building industry is facing a severe shortage of distribution transformers, NAHB commends Senator Barrasso for introducing this important legislation. This vital measure to delay for five years any rulemaking on energy efficiency standards for distribution transformers will provide needed time to boost output at existing facilities to address the growing supply chain crisis for transformers that has delayed home construction projects across the country and aggravated the nation’s housing affordability crisis.”

Alicia Huey, Chairman, National Association of Home Builders

“Manufacturers are working tirelessly to meet sustained record demand for distribution transformers during a time of significant infrastructure investment and strained supply chains. It’s simply the wrong time for DOE to upend the manufacturing process and further complicate supply chain bottlenecks with new regulations that result in marginal efficiency gains. We look forward to working with Sen. Barrasso on advancing this legislation that is critical to grid reliability and security.”

Debra Phillips, President and CEO, National Electrical Manufacturers Association

“EEI and America's electric companies commend Representative Hudson and Senator Barrasso for their leadership in addressing the severe supply chain challenges facing high-efficiency distribution transformers. The shortage of these essential grid components poses significant risks to national security, grid reliability, and resilience, and it impacts our industry’s important electrification and grid modernization plans.

“The Protecting America's Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act provides additional time for the electric power industry to work with our government partners to assess the costs and benefits that would result from a significant shift away from the electrical steel that currently is being used for transformer cores. Moreover, the bill sends a strong market signal to manufacturers that there is demand for their existing products, which enables manufacturers to determine that investments to expand production capacity to address the shortages are prudent.

“Establishing a stronger and sustainable domestic market for high-efficiency distribution transformers, while ensuring the reliability, resilience, and efficiency of the energy grid, are goals that we all share. EEI's member companies are eager to continue collaborating with Congress and with all stakeholders to identify short-term and long-term solutions to overcome this crisis.”

Tom Kuhn, President and CEO, Edison Electric Institute

"The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) supports the Protecting America’s Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act and applauds this effort to delay DOE’s ill-timed distribution transformer rule. The bill would allow electric co-ops to replenish depleted transformer stockpiles, upgrade the grid, and maintain reliability using proven transformer technology."

Jim Matheson, Chief Executive Officer, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Barrasso discussed the proposed revision during a recent hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

Read the text of the Protecting America's Distribution Transformer Supply Chain Act here.