The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) most recent report card gave our nation’s energy infrastructure a D+ grade, pointing out that most U.S. energy infrastructure predates the 21st century. The ASCE says aging electricity infrastructure contributed to 3,571 total outages in 2015, and oil refineries have been operating at around 90 percent capacity. The future presents even bigger challenges: a changing electric grid, new technologies and new sources of energy and changes to where and how energy is being produced will all require improved infrastructure, and it’s not clear that we can keep up. The ASCE projects the investment gap for energy infrastructure to be $177 billion from 2016 to 2025.
The NAM’s “Building to Win” blueprint puts forward several recommendations to improve our energy infrastructure. Recommended actions include the following:
- Reform existing laws and regulations to facilitate a more transparent, streamlined and coordinated regulatory process for the siting and permitting of all energy delivery infrastructure, including oil and natural gas pipelines, energy transport by rail, energy export terminals and interstate electric transmission infrastructure.
- Promote new energy infrastructure investments as a means of increasing U.S. infrastructure’s resilience to climate change by designing for projected future climate conditions. Regulators should work to more quickly approve smart investments.
- Examine innovative financing mechanisms for new energy infrastructure to encourage private investment.
- Coordinate underground infrastructure work for road, water, gas, electric and broadband to yield construction savings and reduce traffic disruptions from construction work.
- Invest in regions without a developed pipeline network to bring down home heating costs in places like New England and make manufacturers more competitive.
The National Association of Manufacturers has been encouraged that lawmakers are focusing on energy as a key component of a broader infrastructure package. We’ll be at the table working to drive solutions that make manufacturers more competitive.