Tax reform, energy grid protection among top policy concerns for electric company CEOs, executives
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Each March, electric company CEOs and executives from across the country descend upon the nation’s capital to advocate for the industry's most pressing federal policy priorities. At the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), we expect a very busy policy agenda in 2017, with a new Administration and new Congress in Washington, as well as many new governors, legislators, and regulators in the states. These changes bring tremendous challenges and also extraordinary opportunities.

One major opportunity that has emerged quickly this year is comprehensive tax reform. EEI’s member companies support comprehensive tax reform because we believe that a simpler tax code, broader tax base, and lower tax rates will grow the economy and increase U.S. competitiveness, support job creation, and benefit our customers. Tax reform legislation must preserve interest deductibility to support investments in America’s critical energy infrastructure and to keep energy bills as affordable and predictable as possible for all Americans.

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The current deduction for interest expense on corporate debt is essential to help minimize increases in electricity rates, especially during this time of major infrastructure enhancement. By utilizing the deduction, in concert with our other tax reform priorities, electric companies can continue to efficiently invest in the infrastructure necessary to provide American homes and businesses with reliable and affordable electricity.

We are working with Congress and the administration to find tax reform solutions that help to keep our cost of capital as low as possible. This, in turn, will benefit customers and encourage much-needed investment in critical energy infrastructure.

In addition to tax reform, there is a great deal of discussion under way about our nation’s infrastructure. From a policy standpoint, we fully support streamlining and expediting the process for permitting and siting energy infrastructure—including transmission lines, natural gas facilities and pipelines, and other energy facilities—to ensure that energy can get where it is needed, when it is needed.

EEI’s member companies plan to invest more than $100 billion this year to build smarter energy infrastructure and to transition to even cleaner generation sources. These investments create jobs and make the energy grid more robust, more dynamic, and more secure for all customers.

As part of their efforts to build smarter energy infrastructure, electric companies are deploying advanced digital technologies, improving power lines and substations, hardening the system against severe weather, and enhancing cyber and physical security. It is critical that state and federal policymakers adopt policies that recognize the value of the energy grid and support its ongoing transformation through increased investment and cost recovery.

Protecting the energy grid is our top priority, and every day America’s electric companies are working to improve grid security, reliability, and resiliency. National security and cybersecurity also are priorities for President Trump and the administration, and we believe public policies should help to strengthen the energy grid’s resilience against cyber and physical security attacks and natural disasters.

Smarter energy infrastructure also is the enabling platform for a clean and affordable energy future. In just 10 years, the mix of sources used to generate electricity has changed dramatically and is increasingly clean. In 2016, natural gas use surpassed coal as a main source of electricity in the U.S.—the first time that a fuel other than coal has supplied the bulk of the nation’s power.

Electric companies also are the largest investors in renewable energy in the U.S. Virtually all of the wind, geothermal, and hydropower in the country—and the majority of installed solar capacity—is provided by electric companies.

From a policy perspective, EEI will continue to advocate for policies that support and maintain a balanced and diverse energy mix. We also will remain focused on increasing awareness of the vital role that 24/7 power (or baseload) sources, including coal and nuclear energy, play in sustaining a diverse, reliable, and resilient energy mix.

EEI’s member companies are committed to providing reliable, affordable, secure, and increasingly clean energy to drive our nation’s economy and power our everyday lives. We will advocate for policies that support pro-growth tax reform, infrastructure investment, grid security, and a balanced energy mix. And, we remain focused on delivering America’s energy future.

Tom Kuhn is president of the Edison Electric Institute, the association that represents all U.S. investor-owned electric companies, which serve nearly 70 percent of America’s industries, businesses, and consumers.


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.