Congressman Jim Leach says recent power outages illustrate the need to upgrade the nation’s electric transmission lines — and build in “redundancies” or alternate means of providing electricity.Leach says Hurricane Isabel and the August power outage on the east coast show just how vulnerable an advanced society is to natural disasters and terrorists who would commit “untoward deeds” on a massive scale. Leach says when changes were made a decade ago to encourage more competition between electric utilities, the incentives utilities received for investing in the transmission grid were removed. Leach says there’s now no incentive for the “for-profit” owners of the transmission lines to “over-invest” in the grid, or hire lots of engineers to maintain the system.Leach says Congress must now consider some kind of an “economic incentive” for utilities that invest in improvements in electric-transmission systems. Leach says it will take a lot of thought to come up with the right utility tax policy.
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