Matheson testifies before Congress

Achieving 100 percent carbon-free electricity generation by 2035 is an overly ambitious goal that could threaten grid reliability and requires technology that is not yet available, NRECA CEO Jim Matheson told a Senate panel.

The Biden administration has set a goal of a carbon-free electric sector by 2035.

“As our nation works to strengthen energy security and reliability while also protecting the environment, we must realize that it is not an all-or-nothing choice,” Matheson testified. “We can address these priorities – but it requires technology and time beyond what is currently available and what many have called for.”

Matheson said lawmakers should focus on three key points as they consider the nation’s energy future:

A resilient and reliable electric grid that affordably keeps the lights on is the cornerstone of American energy security and the national economy.

The ongoing energy transition must recognize the need for time and technology and be inclusive of all energy sources to maintain reliability and affordability.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill made important investments to support an energy transition, but additional actions on tax credits, permit streamlining and coordination on electrification will be required to meet future energy needs.

Matheson urged senators to oppose efforts to “mandate energy sector transformations over unreasonable or unrealistic timelines and that fail to account for regional differences in
energy resource availability or the potential for stranded assets.”

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by Congress last November “included significant opportunities for electric co-ops and the communities they serve through programs supporting clean energy deployment, grid resiliency and modernization, physical and cybersecurity, electric vehicles, and rural broadband,” Matheson said.

But he said more must be done to provide tax incentives, streamline the permitting process and coordinate electrification efforts.

“Policymakers must continue to balance realism with aspiration while recognizing that any energy transition will require additional time and technology and must be inclusive of all energy sources to maintain the reliability and affordability that is the cornerstone of American energy security.”

Source: Erin Kelly, NRECA