NRECA has joined with electrical unions, builders and utility groups in asking President Joe Biden to prioritize domestic steel production to help meet an unprecedented demand for electrification and grid modernization and resilience initiatives.
“We write to urge your administration to make it clear that electrical steel is critical to the national and economic security of the United States and to prioritize actions that will create a sustainable supply,” NRECA and eight other national organizations said in a May 22 letter to the president and copied to the secretaries of treasury, energy, commerce and labor.
“The limited availability of domestically manufactured electrical steel poses challenges to the widespread adoption of electric vehicles, delays timelines for utilities to restore power following natural disasters and is a contributing factor to an insufficient inventory of distribution transformers to meet the demand for new home and commercial construction,” the letter said.
The Department of Energy last year documented only one U.S. supplier of grain oriented electrical steel, and that “severely limits electrical manufacturers’ ability to source domestically and meet certain domestic content thresholds” set by the administration, the groups said. GOES and non-grain oriented electrical steel are essential components to electric motors, transformers, electric vehicle chargers, generators and other critical electrical equipment.
“Shortages of domestic electrical steel are contributing to significant and persistent supply chain challenges across our industries,” the groups told the president. “The federal government can guarantee purchase of GOES and NOES up to a defined amount, as needed by critical electrical industries, to serve a more electrified economy as well as incentivize expanded manufacturing capacity.”
The groups suggested Biden convene an Electrical Steel Summit with stakeholders, including electric utilities, electrical manufacturers, automakers, steel manufacturers, labor unions and homebuilders, to focus on the challenges to U.S. production and the supply chain crisis that threatens the economy and the administration’s electrification and decarbonization goals.
The White House also should recognize domestic electrical steel production as vital to its objectives in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act and prioritize the “critical importance of electrical steel and growing domestic manufacturing jobs by working with Congress to put requisite financial resources toward shoring up domestic supply,” the organizations said.
“We urge your administration to make developing a sustainable supply of electrical steel in this country a top priority now and going forward.”
The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, American Public Power Association, Edison Electric Institute, GridWise Alliance, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Leading Builders of America, National Association of Home Builders and National Electrical Manufacturers Association joined NRECA in signing the letter to Biden.
Earlier this year, NRECA called on DOE to address the urgency of GOES production for domestic distribution transformers rather than pursue efficiency standards supporting amorphous steel, a less durable material that is largely sourced overseas and could create reliability issues.
Cathy Cash is a staff writer for NRECA.