Last week the U.S. Senate announced a two-year budget deal that included $20 billion for infrastructure. This week, the Trump administration announced plans to invest $200 billion to spur $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investments. Infrastructure appears to be top of mind in our nation’s Capitol.
Seeking to understand how to best address the nation’s energy infrastructure demands, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources held a hearing on Feb. 8 to examine the evolution of energy infrastructure in the U.S. Philip Mezey, Itron’s president and chief executive office, was invited to testify at the hearing to share examples of targeted infrastructure improvements.
During his prepared remarks, Mezey emphasized that smart technology pinpoints the most vulnerable aspects of energy infrastructure to help prioritize smart grid investments. Highlighting case studies from Texas, New York, North Carolina and Washington, Mezey shared how smart technology provides the tools to understand where to invest money and when.
For example, CenterPoint Energy in Houston saved 45 million outage minutes after hurricane Harvey thanks to its smart infrastructure. Despite the destruction left by the hurricane, CenterPoint Energy’s grid remained resilient, providing more effective power to their customers.
“As of a result of the smart infrastructure they’ve invested in, they saved over 17 billion truck rolls,” Mezey said. “This has been a tremendously positive business case and they continue to explore how they can drive even greater benefits.”
Mezey’s presence at the hearing was thanks in part to Itron’s longstanding relationship with Senator Maria Cantwell. As the current ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Cantwell has been a key advocate for Itron on Capitol Hill for many years. During the passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009, Cantwell was instrumental in ensuring that Itron’s customers would not be excluded from the smart grid grant program, which provided utilities with matching grants up to $200 million.
“At a minimum, we want to make sure that any national discussion about infrastructure includes energy and water delivery, which is why this hearing was a win for us,” said Dan Pfeiffer, Itron director of government and regulatory affairs. “Strong relationships with our Congressional delegation are critical to ensuring that Itron’s interests are considered in national legislation.”
Playing an important part in the discussion on energy infrastructure, Itron is committed to providing safety and resourcefulness to the energy grid. Mezey’s testimony at the senate hearing was one step toward a better energy landscape in the U.S. With smart technology, capital can be allocated more effectively to manage existing assets for longer and reduce operation and maintenance costs.
“We at Itron deeply believe that investments in smart grid technology are not only showing basic business case benefits, but also helping utilities better understand how to allocate scarce resources, manage their assets more effectively and prepare for the 21st century grid requirement,” Mezey said in closing.