Basin Electric transmission executive testifies before House subcommittee

Basin Electric Vice President of Transmission Pius Fischer testified before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee’s subcommittee on energy and mineral resources on Nov. 16. The hearing was held virtually.

The testimony was given as part of an oversight hearing on the development of transmission on public lands. Fischer was one of five who testified and the only representative from the electric utility industry.

“We believe there is tremendous opportunity to utilize federal lands for both generating renewable electricity and moving that electricity to load centers,” he said in his testimony. “However, when it comes to infrastructure development on federal lands, there are a number of challenges.”

Fischer said the process to permit, or otherwise receive the rights to construct transmission on federal land is a years-long process. “Generally speaking, the additional time and cost of constructing transmission on federal lands means that the need to cross federal lands becomes a measure of last resort for electric cooperatives,” he said.

As part of his testimony, Fischer gave recommendations that would improve the ability to permit, construct, and operate transmission infrastructure for projects with a federal nexus.

He concluded by saying, “There is no shortage of challenges as we seek solutions that balance the need for affordable and reliable energy with the challenge of reducing CO2 emissions. We support the role that federal lands can play in expanding the deployment of renewable energy. However, I would caution if beneficial electrification is a key element of achieving the goal of reduced emissions, driving up the cost of electricity due to increased time and costs for transmission is self-defeating.” 

Following his testimony, Fischer and the other witnesses answered questions from subcommittee members.

Find video of the full committee hearing on the House Natural Resources Committee’s YouTube channel.


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