Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry stressed the need for an enhanced international electric grid at the Council of the Americas' 44th Conference on the Americas, stating, Â“And we have to do a better job, all of us, in investing in new clean energy technologies and connecting energy markets from Chile to Canada. Â… So we believe in this future of energy policy for this hemisphere, of linking Canada, U.S., Mexico, to all the way down through Latin America.Â”
By bolstering North AmericaÂ’s integrated electric grid, H.R. 3301 will help improve energy affordability and reliability, job creation, the environment, and our overall economy. The North American Energy Infrastructure Act will ensure that there wonÂ’t be any Keystone XL-like delays for cross-border electricity projects. The committee is scheduled to vote on this bipartisan legislation tomorrow. Click HERE for more details.
The Current U.S.-Canada Electricity Relationship
Currently, the U.S. and Canadian transmission systems are physically interconnected at over 35 points with linkages stretching across the border from the Pacific Northwest to New England. Canada is currently the United StatesÂ’ largest foreign supplier of electricity, with exports to the U.S. typically representing anywhere from 5-10 of CanadaÂ’s total production. In 2012, electricity exports from Canada totaled 57,864,640 megawatt-hours. While these exports constitute a small percentage of electricity consumption in the U.S. nationwide between 1-2, they are critical to the energy security and reliability of several states and regions, particularly in New England and the Midwest.
The vast majority of Canadian power exports are generated from clean and renewable energy sources. Sales from the hydropower-producing provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, and QuĂ©bec represent 75 of all exports. The Canadian province of Ontario, the second-largest electricity exporter to the U.S., generated 79 of its power from emission-free nuclear and hydropower facilities, with natural gas comprising the next largest share of its portfolio at 15.
The Future of the U.S.-Canada Electricity Relationship
In addition to the three-dozen existing physical interconnections between the U.S. and Canadian grids, there are additional electric transmission projects currently at various stages of development. These projects would further enhance the level of integration between the transmission systems in the U.S. and Canada. Furthermore, they each propose to unlock new sources of clean energy generation located in both countries. By standardizing and modernizing the cross-border approval process for similar proposals in the future, the North American Energy Infrastructure Act will help spur additional investment in cross-border transmission lines.