- - Monday, May 1, 2017

It is not an exaggeration to suggest that our economy, our national security and our way of life all depend on the reliable, secure and efficient operation of energy infrastructure …

We are facing several challenges that threaten to disrupt Americans’ access to reliable and affordable energy.

First, our hydroelectric dams, power plants, electric transmission lines and pipelines are aging. … According to the Gridwise Alliance, our aging infrastructure is responsible for approximately 25 percent of all power outages in the United States. The Electric Power Research Institute estimates that power outages and reductions in power quality cost the U.S. economy as much as $20 billion annually. …

There is the issue of cybersecurity that keeps me up at night thinking about potential hacks from Russia or foreign actors, as we see large-scale attacks happening in other places.

If we do not make the necessary investments to prevent, defend against and minimize the impact of these cyberattacks, our enemies may succeed in causing a widespread blackout or devastation to our economy. …

Our economy and way of life have grown increasingly dependent on the electric grid and smart tools. So we need to make sure that we are deploying energy in new ways to help them. …

The World Economic Forum recently estimated that the digital transformation of electricity technology will create $1.3 trillion in economic value during the next 10 years. To me, it is imperative that the U.S. lead this effort.

As the [Department of Energy’s] Quadrennial Energy Review pointed out, we need to invest in the energy work force that is needed. Approximately 200,000 workers with STEM skills will be needed for the electricity grid of the future.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, Washington Democrat, is ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. This excerpt is from remarks she gave March 14, 2017, at the committee’s hearing on opportunities to improve U.S. energy infrastructure.

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