Padilla Bill to Strengthen Power Grids Included in Energy and Natural Resources Committee Infrastructure Package

The POWER On Act will help improve state and tribal energy grids to help prevent power shutoffs and utility-caused wildfires

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) released the following statement after the Energy and Natural Resources Committee agreed to include significant provisions from Padilla’s POWER On Act of 2021 to make our electrical grids more reliable and climate resilient in their energy infrastructure package:

“Our energy grid must be strengthened to keep the power on in communities impacted by extreme weather events and natural disasters. In California and across the country, climate change has made these events regular occurrences rather than once-in-a-generation disasters,” said Sen. Padilla. “That’s why I’m glad to see these necessary, smart investments included in this energy infrastructure package to strengthen our electric grid and reduce the need for public safety power shutoffs and prevent electric system failures due to extreme weather.”

The Energy and Natural Resources Committee adopted provisions from Padilla’s POWER On Act and would invest $500 million each year for five years in projects that enhance the physical resilience of the electric grid in response to extreme weather events and natural disasters.

Last year, the Department of Energy found weather-related power outages have increased by 67 percent since 2000. Across the country, natural disasters, such as tornados, ice storms, heatwaves, wildfires, and other extreme weather events, are increasing in severity and frequency and significantly straining electric grids. These events erode public confidence in the grid and leave vulnerable populations in the dark for days.

California faced some of the largest, record-breaking wildfires in state history last year. 6 of the top 10 most destructive fires in California occurred in the past three years and at least three of those fires were triggered by utility equipment. Additionally, from 2013 to the end of 2019, California experienced over 57,000 wildfires and the three largest energy companies in the state conducted 33 public safety power shutoffs to try to prevent additional fires. Millions of Californians were left without power for days on end, leaving communities at risk. 

Senator Padilla has been a consistent and vocal advocate on the need to strengthen our grid systems, and he recently visited the California ISO in Sacramento to discuss the urgent need to invest in our physical infrastructure and power grid.