KATIE BRITT, Senator for Alabama

Washington, D.C., June 8, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.) last week joined U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty (R-Tenn.) and a bipartisan group of 45 other colleagues in sending a letter to Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer Granholm raising their concern about a proposed rule by the DOE that increases efficiency standards on distribution transformers—critical grid products—at a time when the availability of essential grid components remains a significant challenge for the electric power industry and while the industry is struggling due to a substantial increase in demand, supply chain issues, and a skilled workforce shortage.

“Instead of meeting the challenges of today – grid reliability, national security, and supply chain efficiency – President Biden chooses to regulate to a different reality, one that only serves his reckless Green New Deal priorities,” said Senator Katie Britt. “I urge this Administration to rescind this rule and commit to a solution that supports current steel industry capabilities.”

“Currently, the United States only has one domestic producer of amorphous steel. Moving to amorphous steel cores, as proposed by DOE, would require this sole domestic supplier to rapidly scale operations from its current market share of less than five percent to accommodate the entire distribution transformer market. Such a recalibration of the supply chain will further delay manufacturing production timelines – currently estimated to be a minimum of 18 months to two years,” the Senators wrote.

The Senators acknowledged the actions that this and previous administrations have already taken in recognition of the challenges associated with distribution transformer supply chains but warned that this proposed rule would negate these advancements.

“By phasing out the primary market for U.S.-produced GOES, the Proposed Rule could jeopardize this progress, putting everyday American families at risk. Further, we are concerned that requiring the use of amorphous steel for new distribution transformers could put the administration’s electrification goals at risk by exacerbating an existing grid vulnerability. At the same time, we recognize the numerous and often underappreciated benefits of energy efficiency and support the overall goal of reducing wasteful electrical losses in our distribution grid. We believe the most prudent course of action is to let both GOES and amorphous steel cores coexist in the market, as they do today without government mandates, for new installations as we ramp up domestic production and reorient supply chains,” the Senators continued.

The Senators concluded by urging the DOE to refrain from promulgating the final rule that will exacerbate transformer shortages and could come at a meaningful cost to grid reliability and national security, advancements in clean energy transition, and the bolstering of domestic supply chains and the workforce. Additionally, they requested a briefing with the DOE on the advancement of the proposal and how the DOE can address the supply chain challenges facing distribution transformers with its existing authority.

“We are committed to working with you to identify short and long-term solutions to the supply chain shortage of these critical grid components with a goal of building a robust domestic market and a more efficient and reliable grid for decades to come,” the Senators concluded.

A copy of the letter, including the full list of co-signers, can be found here.