In the media

PA Consulting’s Jeremy Klingel discusses a major US infrastructure bill

Bloomberg Quicktake

21 July 2021

Jeremy Klingel, PA Consulting energy and utilities expert, featured on Bloomberg Quicktake discussing a major US infrastructure bill. Bloomberg Quicktake reporter Jennifer Zabasajja and Bloomberg Washington Correspondent Annmarie Hordern are also featured.

Click here to watch the full segment (start at 20:00 mark)

Jennifer: Let's bring in Jeremy Klingel, energy and utility advisor for PA Consulting, as well as Bloomberg's Annmarie Hordern, who is our Washington correspondent. Annmarie talk to us first. Is this vote really dead on arrival today?

Annmarie: Well, it's a procedural vote. So we shouldn't make too much of the fact that this means legislation is dead, it just won't wouldn't hit the floor. So likely the democrats are struggling at the moment to get those 10 republicans that they need to get 60 votes to get this over the line. Senator Schumer says it's been done in the past when even though the debate the legislation wasn't fully ready to go, and there still needs to be debate about it. They were able to bring it to the floor. But the republicans are saying until the pay fours are locked up. And until we have legislation in hand, we don't want to vote for it. Senator Mitt Romney yesterday, no course of them are really talking about the fact that they think they can get there by the end of the week. They would prefer this vote on Monday. But Senator Schumer really wants to speed up negotiations. So he's keeping to that vote this afternoon. We'll have to wait to see whether or not they get it or not. And it looks unlikely, unlikely.

Jennifer: And Annmarie, we know the details are not finalized. But Jeremy, I want to bring you in here of what we know about this infrastructure bill. Where do you stand on sort of the details and doesn't go far enough?

Jeremy: Good morning. And thank you for this opportunity. I think it's important to acknowledge the sheer scale of this bill, it has the potential to be a framework for the next Industrial Revolution. The scope is expansive. It’s funding underlying infrastructure needed to accelerate adoption of electric vehicles and clean transport, enabling access to broadband internet for underserved communities. It's expediting the replacement of critical electric, water, gas, infrastructure that in many cases has aged well past its intended life. And all that to say it's going to be a significant undertaking, and the details particularly around how it's going to be funded are going to take some time to sketch out. Ultimately, a few days delay on a procedural vote, I don't believe should derail what could be a game changing public private investment for our generation.

Jennifer: So then what needs to happen next, Jeremy?

Jeremy: I think we need to get into the details of what is actually needs to be in this bill. Versus quite frankly, what would be more politically motivated. Infrastructure needs, I think everyone can agree are necessary. We need to have additional resilience, which means when you see the storms that are that are occurring globally, when you see the flooding in Germany, wildfires, we need to be able to, in essence, reinforce our grid and our infrastructure. And I think that needs to be the priority. So focus on that, get that through, get to get enough detail around it. And I think we can move forward.

Jennifer: And to that note, Annmarie, where did the Republicans stand on this? I mean, they're not supportive of this current vote. Some of them are not supportive of the vote today. But where do they stand on the bill itself?

Annmarie: Well, there's 22 bipartisan democrat Democrats and Republicans, a group of them working on all of this. So there are a number that support this. What's interesting is there are Republicans who potentially don't want to go through with it, because they want to see what the Democrats are cooking up with the reconciliation bill. But by and large, this does have bipartisan support. It's for roads, it's for bridges. It's for hard infrastructure, like Internet, what Jeremy was just saying, and that does get a lot of support in Washington. It's really the multi trillion dollar, $3.5 trillion to be exact, that they want to spend on human infrastructure, expansion of Medicare, childcare, potentially Community College, those are the things that the Republicans will not be able to get on board. But to Jeremy's point, if I can just ask a question to him about this. What is going on in terms of what you see as some of these climate change policies in the infrastructure deal? Do you think it goes far enough?

Jeremy: I don't think it goes far enough. I think that we have to acknowledge that the norm has really changed. What would have been a storm of the century a few years ago is just another storm of the year. And so we need to spend time building out a more flexible and integrated infrastructure, that even perhaps restructure traditional energy markets. That needs to be on the table, we need to be able to better integrate renewables of all shapes and sizes. We need to build out power transmission that's not just governed at a regional level where you're looking at individual utilities or power producers, they need to pay for this infrastructure, quite frankly, the broader public is going to be able to benefit for. So to your point around this being around greater good and the human infrastructure, hard critical infrastructure needs to be put first. I think there's going to be a lot of tangible benefits really to all of us, not just when we think about keeping the lights on, but quite frankly also decarbonizing the grid and starting to combat global warming.

Jennifer: And Jeremy just something today that's happening, the President is going to be in Ohio. He's going to try and continue to push his message. But there is a bridge there in Ohio that a lot of former presidents have not been able to fix up the Brent Spence bridge. What do you think the President's message needs to be?

Jeremy: I think it needs to be that when we talk about infrastructure, we're looking about it holistically. This is not about taking out jobs. This is not about, quite frankly, just building new shiny infrastructure or renewables. It's about taking a look at the total package and realizing yes, we do need to replace aged assets. And then on top of that, we need to add in clean infrastructure, we need to build in automation. And we need to, quite frankly, retool a bit of the economy to have the jobs that can support that. If anything, I think there's a lot of opportunity here as we create more integrated widespread intelligent infrastructure. So I think looking at it is more of just replacement of assets. And looking at the bigger picture of what should this energy economy, what should this infrastructure of the future look like 10 years down the road. I think that's the kind of horizon and that's the kind of message. We've got to look to the future in a meaningful way.


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