President Joe Biden has suspended a Trump administration executive order to secure the bulk power system (BPS) from foreign-made equipment being used on key parts of the U.S. grid.
The new administration said the 90-day suspension, effective Jan. 20, will provide time to review the 2020 executive order for possible revision or even expansion.
Under authority of the May 1, 2020, executive order, U.S. Department of Energy instituted a Jan. 16, 2021, ban on the procurement of BPS equipment from China for certain utilities serving critical defense facilities. The current administration’s suspension also covers this ban.
The suspension by the Biden administration also indefinitely postpones the prohibition order’s March 17 deadline for specific utilities to track and certify all BPS equipment transactions.
NRECA is engaged with DOE to ensure the concerns of electric cooperatives are heard. A number of co-ops were covered by the prohibition and more may have been impacted by the original BPS order. Both raise questions of potential delays and added costs to projects.
NRECA will ask that the administration work with affected utilities to ensure time and cost impacts are addressed and that they grandfather any projects already in the procurement process, said Stephanie Crawford, NRECA senior regulatory manager.
“We are advocating co-op priorities throughout the course of this order’s implementation,” she said. “We will make sure the Biden administration understands the timing and cost of any replacement of equipment discussed as a result of the executive order. We are working to make sure co-op priorities are reflected in the ultimate outcome.”
Crawford said co-ops that acquire components to serve critical facilities should assume the Biden administration will maintain some type of policy against Chinese equipment.
“Everyone should continue to evaluate their own procurement process and how they manage risk in that process for the foreseeable future,” she said. “We expect this administration to keep a spotlight on this issue.”
The Trump administration’s prohibition order targets equipment from China and covers electric utilities that own or operate “defense critical electric infrastructure” as defined by the Federal Power Act and serve “critical defense facilities” designated by the secretary of Energy.
It prohibits acquiring, importing, transferring or installing specific bulk power system equipment of 69 kilovolts or higher that are manufactured in China or supplied by persons or businesses subject to China’s jurisdiction.