Disaster Declaration for Maui Wildfires
On August 8, 2023, wildfires began in Hawaii, devastating the island state. The Biden Administration approved the Hawaii Disaster Declaration two days after the fire began, giving individuals impacted by the fires in Maui County access to Federal funding for recovery efforts. View more information on the current government resources here.
NECA's Take: Visit NECA’s Crisis Resource Center for crisis preparedness resources and to learn about NECA’s Disaster Relief Fund.
Davis-Bacon Final Rule Released; Sign up for NECA’s Educational Webinar
The Department of Labor released the long-awaited Davis-Bacon Act regulation on August 8, 2023. This is the first time the Act has been updated in nearly four decades. The Davis-Bacon Act and prevailing wage laws ensure public works contractors pay skilled tradespeople no less than prevailing wages on similar regional projects. This new rule will expand the skilled construction workforce, supporting apprenticeships and training costs through prevailing wages. The Davis-Bacon statute encompasses all federal or federally assisted construction projects valued at more than $2,000. Several other “related acts” will be impacted by prevailing-wage mandates, such as ensuring federal measures that extend the application of Davis-Bacon requirements to projects that involve federal loans, loan guarantees, insurance, or other types of assistance help. NECA submitted comments on the proposed rule on our own and with the Construction Employers of America.
NECA's Take: With this update, NECA contractors will be able to compete on federal construction contracts with routinely updated wage surveys and prevailing wages that accurately reflect local labor rates. We are in the process of thoroughly evaluating the 812-page regulation, scrutinizing various elements of this new rule. NECA will be hosting a webinar on August 31st from 2-3 PM ET to discuss the administration of the Act. You can sign up here. The Department of Labor will also be hosting seminars on Sept. 13 and 14, 2023. Attendance is free, but registration is required.
Final Build America, Buy America Guidelines Released
The White House on August 14 released final regulations on Build America, Buy America (BABA) which aim to boost the amount of domestically manufactured goods, including steel, iron, and other construction materials, used on federal infrastructure projects. In their final rule, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) stated that the new BABA rules would apply to all federal infrastructure projects that use those materials. The final rule expanded its list of construction materials used to non-ferrous metals, plastic, and polymer-based products, including polyvinylchloride, composite building materials and polymers used in fiber-optic cables, glass, including optic glass and optical fiber, fiber-optic cable, including drop cable, lumber, engineered wood, and drywall. There are three cases in which awarding agencies can issue waivers:
- A public interest waiver, if applying BABA would be inconsistent with the public interest.
- A nonaviailability waiter, when U.S. manufactured products are not sufficiently available.
- An unreasonable cost waiver, if the use of U.S. materials will increase the cost of the overall project by more than 25%.
NECA's Take: NECA submitted comments and advocated for several changes, including clearer definitions of construction materials to ensure adequate compliance with BABA. We are pleased to report that the final regulations include uniform definitions for fiber cables. NECA also signed onto a letter with other associations asking for a pragmatic regulatory landscape that must allow adequate time and flexibility to comply with domestic content preferences as the re-orientation and expansion occurs and provide continued technical support and training as businesses evaluate, plan for, and make the necessary decisions and investments to on-shore, near-shore, or friend-shore operations and assets. We will continue to work with the federal agencies regarding concerns we have with the BABA requirements.
NECA Submits Regulatory Comments on Designation of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors
U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Grid Deployment Office (GDO) issued a Notice of Intent (NOI) and Request for Information (RFI) to inform the designation of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs). NIETCs are geographic areas where electricity limitations, congestion, or capacity constraints are adversely affecting electricity consumers and communities. Designation of a NIETC unlocks critical federal investment and regulatory and permitting tools to spur urgent transmission investments needed in these geographic areas to improve reliability and resilience and reduce consumer costs. In the NOI, DOE provides further information on its anticipated approach to designating NIETCs.
NECA's Take: In the comments NECA submitted, we stated that by using the designation of NIETC that it would unlock federal investments and other regulatory and permitting tools that were authorized under IRA and IIJA and those provisions such as prevailing wage and apprenticeship utilization should be applied. Additionally, NECA advocated for the priority use of a ‘single craft agreement’ to utility projects, use of PLA on non-utility scale projects, ensuring the use of registered apprenticeship programs, and ensuring the ‘one federal decision’ permitting process is implemented.
NECA Submits Regulatory Comments on The Bureau of Land Management’s proposed Renewable Energy Rule
The Department of the Interior announced a proposed update of its renewable energy regulations to promote the development of solar and wind energy on public lands. The Bureau of Land Management's proposed Renewable Energy Rule would reduce fees for these projects by around 80%, facilitate development in priority areas by streamlining review of applications, and deliver greater certainty for the private sector. The Energy Act of 2020 authorized the BLM to reduce acreage rents and capacity fees to promote wind and solar development.
NECA's Take: NECA's comments highlighted the federal government's interest in the sale of the land and should consider the use of Project Labor Agreements subject to Executive Order (E.O.) 14063, Use of Project Labor Agreements for Federal Construction Projects, issued February 4, 2022 (87 FR 7363, February 9, 2022). Additionally, NECA advocated for the use for ‘Tri-Trade Project Labor Agreements’ for solar projects, ensuring energy storage facilities are on a linear rent schedule, and conditions of non-competitive leasing applications, and transmission infrastructure facilities be included in the factor test.
Chairman's Challenge: Dakotas Chapter Meets with Minnesota Delegation
On August 3, 2023, Greg Rick of Rick Electric and Julia Convertini of NECA's Government Affairs Team met with members of the Minnesota Delegation. They discussed issues impacting the electrical construction industry. Pictured from left to right is Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN), Greg Rick, Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA), Julia Convertini, Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), and Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN).
Last week, District 6 raised a record-breaking $181,375 during their summer conference!
Special thanks to Gloria Ashford of Ashford Electric, Scott Bringmann of Alcan Electric, LeeAnn Cochran of Cochran Inc., Lael Fullford of Fullford Electric, Brian Gini of Collins Electric, Marvin Nelson of Nelson Electric, Travis Sharp of Madsen Electric, and Mark Walter of Christenson Electric for renewing their PLC memberships!
Congratulations to the Alaska, Arkansas, Cascade, Dakotas, Inland Empire, Oregon-Columbia, Puget Sound, and Southwest Washington Chapters on reaching their 2023 NECAPAC goals.
NECAPAC Total 8/18/23 - $438,229
Operational Fund Total 8/18/23 - $289,604
Special thanks to the Cascade, Oregon-Columbia, and Puget Sound Chapters for joining the Government Affairs Advocate Program.
NECA On the Move
Over the past two weeks, NECA's Government Affairs team met with Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Senate Health, Education, and Labor Committee, House Education and the Workforce Committee, Congressman Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN), Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC), Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-MN), Rep. Brad Finstad (R-MN), and Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY).