"The electric power industry is in the process of transformation. The electricity infrastructure of the United States is aging, and uncertainty exists around how to modernize the grid, and what technologies and fuels will be used to produce electricity in the future. Congress will likely be faced with policy issues regarding how the modernization of this vital industry will unfold. […] Upgrading the nation's transmission system to accommodate current and future uses, and ensuring the reliable functioning and the security of the grid, has been a major concern for the federal government. Federal law has already tasked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission with responsibility for enforcing reliability standards for the bulk electric system, including cybersecurity, but protection from natural hazards continues as a key issue. The recent damage sustained to the electrical grid by Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey and difficulty in restoring electricity service underscore the age and fragility of the power system, and how electricity service might benefit from hardening and modernization of various power systems. Growing concerns over greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, other environmental costs associated with burning fossil fuels, and existing or anticipated state and federal policies addressing these issues are leading some utilities and energy providers to deploy more renewable energy technologies to meet power demands, and potentially increasing the need for new transmission lines to incorporate clean energy sources."
CRS Report for Congress, R42923