WASHINGTON Feb 23 U.S. energy bills addressing
renewable energy transmission will be unveiled over the next
several weeks, key Senate Democrats said on Monday.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to
introduce legislation Thursday aimed at facilitating the
development of an electricity grid that can deliver power
generated by clean energy sources from remote locations to
Reid's bill would require the president to designate areas
that have the potential to produce significant amounts of clean
energy. Planning for the grid would then begin in those
selected areas. Reid stressed, however, that the federal
government would have authority to complete transmission lines
without the approval of local governments.
"We cannot let...state regulators hold up progress," Reid
told reporters at the National Clean Energy Project event he
hosted along with the Center for American Progress.
Reid said state regulators would have opportunities to try
work out a plan for the grid, but as in the cases of other
national projects such as building railroads and interstate
highways, "there may come a time when the federal government
has to step in."
Once Reid's bill is introduced, the bill would go to the
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for
Separately, the energy committee's chairman Senator Jeff
Bingaman said on Monday he hopes to have a package that would
deal with energy efficiency and renewable energy power
generation on the Senate floor in four to six weeks.
Bingaman has already begun holding hearings on the possible
energy legislation, that is set to include a measure that would
require utilities to produce a certain amount of electricity
from clean energy sources.
"We'll proceed as rapidly as we can," Bingaman told
reporters at Reid's event.
Lawmakers and administration officials at the forum
discussed the importance of developing a national electricity
grid that can support clean energy sources such as wind, solar,
and geothermal power.
Bingaman said he would like the energy package proposed by
his committee to provide Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
with more authority to oversee the construction of a modern
Bingaman said he hoped to be able to fold Reid's proposal
into the energy committee's package. Climate change proposals
that would begin to regulate carbon dioxide emissions will not
be included in this upcoming legislation, however.
Reid said the Senate will tackle global warming issues
later in the year in a separate package.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Marguerita Choy)