Making Supplemental Appropriations for the Fiscal Year Ending September 30, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Mark Pryor
Date: Jan. 28, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. PRYOR. Mr. President, Hurricane Sandy was the most devastating storm to hit the northeast United States in recorded history. Rebuilding after the storm will be a formidable challenge and this aid bill will go a long way towards meeting that challenge.

When Hurricane Sandy struck the East Coast, it flooded electrical substations and knocked down trees onto power lines, shutting off power for 8.2 million customers, and causing billions of dollars in damage. Over 300,000 homes in New York City and 72,000 homes and businesses in New Jersey were damaged or destroyed. Four New York City hospitals had to shut their doors.

The storm sent floodwater gushing into New York's five boroughs, flooding tunnels and the subway system and making the equipment inoperable. In many hard-hit areas wireless networks suffered widespread outages primarily due to lack of power.

When smart technologies are in place, power outages can be avoided and lives, homes and businesses are protected. As the massive rebuilding effort gets under way, decision makers should rebuild the smart way by ensuring that reconstruction funds maximize the deployment of technologies to improve the resilience of the electric grid, mitigate future power outages and ensure continued operation of facilities critical to public health, safety and welfare. Resilient and reliable power is critical for first responders, communications, health care, transportation, financial systems, homeland security, water and waste-water treatment, emergency food and shelter, and other vital services.

Examples of relevant technologies include smart grid technologies to isolate problems and repair them remotely, such as smart meters, high-tech sensors, grid monitoring and control systems, and remote reconfiguration and redundancy systems; microgrids, energy storage, distributed and backup generation to power critical facilities and operations; wiring, cabling, submersible and other distribution components and enclosures to prevent outages; and electronic controlled re-closers and similar technologies for power restoration.

The funding provided by the Hurricane Sandy disaster relief appropriations bill should enable these States to wisely make cost-effective investments in these technologies for their long-term infrastructure resiliency. Rebuilding these essential infrastructure systems with technology that is equipped to deal with extreme weather should make recovery from any future storm faster, cheaper, and better.

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