Sen. Mark Kelly Introduces Bill to Improve Electric Grid Reliability

Today Arizona Senator Mark Kelly introduced the Demand-Response Management Act of 2021, legislation which would help prevent electric grids from failing during peak demand. The bill would expand the use of energy management initiatives known as demand response programs which enhance grid reliability, particularly during summer and winter months.

For months, Kelly has maintained a focus on strengthening and upgrading Arizona’s critical infrastructure, including investing in energy and water infrastructure. Kelly is a member of the bipartisan Senate working group that is working with the White House to advance the bipartisan infrastructure framework that includes improving electrical grid resiliency and reliability. Kelly’s Demand-Response Management Act of 2021 is part of a $93 billion energy infrastructure proposal, led by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), which will be voted on today by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“During a heat wave or a cold snap, the ability to reduce strain on the electric grid can save consumers money and prevent the grid from collapsing,” said Senator Mark Kelly. “We’ve seen this work in Arizona, which is ahead of other states in implementing demand-response programs to prevent brownouts or blackouts. As Arizona experiences longer and more intense summers, this legislation will help ensure more reliable electrical services for families and businesses across our state and the nation.”

“SRP supports Sen. Mark Kelly’s efforts to help improve the reliability of the electric grid and his legislation that would further encourage the broader adoption of utility demand response programs. SRP’s demand response program benefits all of our customers and provides an important tool in meeting peak electricity demand during critical summer months in Arizona,” said Rob Taylor, Associate General Manager and Chief Public Affairs Executive at SRP. “This helps SRP maintain electric reliability in a more sustainable way and helps offset the need for additional power infrastructure.”   

“Helping customers conserve energy during peak usage periods is becoming even more important to electric reliability as we transition to cleaner energy resources,” said Susan M. Gray, President and CEO of UNS Energy and subsidiaries Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services. “We share Sen. Kelly’s interest in strengthening the partnerships between utilities and our customers through demand response programs that provide cost effective incentives for conservation and support safe, reliable service for all customers.”

“APS has long seen customers as an important part of our resource mix as their conservation efforts and energy use patterns play an important role both in overall reliability and moving faster to a cleaner energy future,” said Barbara Lockwood, Sr. Vice President of Public Policy for Arizona Public Service Co. “As ENERGY STAR’s Partner of the Year for energy efficiency program delivery, we applaud Sen. Kelly’s work to expand the ways our industry can further collaborate with customers to manage demand for electricity in a way that delivers benefits for all who rely on our interconnected grid.”

Demand response programs are proven to provide consumers with affordable and reliable energy during periods of high energy demand, preventing service interruptions and reducing stress on the electric grid. A demand response program promotes voluntary changes in individual behavioral practices when it comes to energy consumption, necessary during extreme weather events.

The Demand-Response Management Act would ensure a more reliable, affordable and resilient electric grid by:

  • Directing utilities to establish demand response programs and state utility regulators to review their demand response programs for the use of rebates and discounts to consumers that incentivize the use of demand response technology, such as smart thermostats and home appliances.
  • Expanding Department of Energy energy efficiency state block grants to help states promote demand response practices and technology. 
  • Adding demand response technologies, practices, and policies to the DOE Zero-Net Energy Commercial Buildings Initiative.
  • Amending the Energy Act of 2020 to expand demand response initiatives in the Federal Energy Management Program to include natural gas demand management.

Kelly’s bill is supported by the National Association of State Energy Officials, the National Electrical Manufacturers Association, and National Rural Electrical Cooperative Association. Read the text of Kelly’s Demand-Response Management Act HERE