Miss. Senator Says Miss. Suppliers Alarmed by “Cart before the Horse” Mandates 

04023 ENR Transformers 
VIDEO:  Senator Hyde-Smith Presses DOE Secretary on Abandoning Proposed Transformer Efficiency Standards.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) on Thursday pressed Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on whether her agency will stop proposed energy-efficiency standards for electric distribution transformers that are already affecting electricity providers beset with supply chain challenges and skyrocketing costs.

Hyde-Smith questioned Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm about the policy at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the FY2024 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) budget request.

“I’ve heard from all my local power companies in Mississippi and they are ringing me up.  I’ve read the key findings from the Tiger Team about serious problems with the supply chain shortages threatening our region’s electric infrastructure, including skyrocketing costs, and long lead times of up to two to four years, and more,” Hyde-Smith said.

“It seems to me, the White House and your department have put the cart before the horse with these new efficiency standards versus meeting current demand, supporting positive investment in the electric grid, and providing critical services to citizens,” she said.

Hyde-Smith told Granholm that electric cooperatives in Mississippi and other utilities strongly believe existing supply chain and labor challenges facing utilities and transformer manufacturers should be fixed before mandating stricter efficiency standards with questionable benefits for the environment.

“It seems clear to me that, even though DOE already mandates distribution transformers be manufactured to incredibly high efficiency standards, you all remain determined to force these efficiency standards on manufacturers despite the serious burden that they bring,” Hyde-Smith said.  “The National Electrical Manufacturers Association calculates these standards would only increase efficiency by 0.02 percent.  So, I just want you to consider how is that worth further worsening an already critical transformer shortage if that is the only savings if you go forward with this?”

Granholm acknowledged existing hurdles in manufacturing and delivering transformers, while also stressing that the proposed standards are still under consideration and that DOE continues to confer interested parties.  The Secretary also declined to say DOE would halt the standards.

“So, do you think maybe it will not go into effect when you thought it would?  Do you think this may go away?” Hyde-Smith asked.

“I don't. No, I think it's important to continue to move toward efficiency, but we are having conversations with industry. I'll just say that,” Granholm said.