August 19, 2003
Murkowski, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, noted that the Senate's Republican leadership had crafted provisions to improve the reliability of electricity transmission in its proposed bill. While the language was not fully incorporated in the bill the Senate passed July 31, the provisions are available for inclusion in a final energy bill when Senate and House conferees meet starting in September to hammer out comprehensive energy legislation.
"For the 59 million Americans who lost power Thursday it is small comfort to know that the Senate already has recognized this country's problems with its transmission system and has crafted steps to help solve the problem. But the blackout is just the latest reason why Congress needs to pass comprehensive energy legislation.
"Many of those same residents are going to see huge increases in their natural gas bills this winter, if Congress can't pass provisions to increase the domestic production and transportation of natural gas. Americans nationwide could also see continued high gasoline prices, if Congress can't take steps to increase the domestic production of oil. All of these issues, including the need to promote energy conservation and energy efficiency, can be addressed in conference in an energy bill. And hopefully they all will be," said Murkowski, as she continued a tour of Kuskokwim River valley communities in western Alaska.
Murkowski said she is hopeful that Congress this fall will reach agreement on provisions to help facilitate construction of a natural gas line to move Alaska's 35 trillion cubic feet of natural gas to markets in the Lower 48 and to tidewater for overseas export. She said she is still strongly pushing financial incentives that include a loan guarantee, accelerated tax depreciation and a marginal well tax credit to help cut the cost of the $20 billion gas line project to make it easier for the line to be financed by the private sector. The line would move 4.5 billion cubic feet of Alaska gas daily to market.
Murkowski noted the energy bill, in an amendment authored by committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., calls for creation of Electric Reliability Organizations (EROs) to oversee steps to guarantee the reliability of the nation's power grids. And she said the bill also calls for the creation of Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) to set rules and craft plans to upgrade the high-voltage power grid and to promote construction of new electric generating plants nationwide. She said the two new oversight organizations should help safeguard the 300,000 miles of transmission lines, 150 grid control centers and 92,000 electric generating units already in place in the Lower 48 States. Work on resolving differences between the House- and Senate-passed energy bills should start in mid September.
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