Amendments to US Energy Legislation Support Energy Storage Advancement

The U.S. Senate in a voice vote on Feb. 1 approved an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S.2012) that gives the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) flexibility in administering funding for energy storage research.

Speaking to the Senate on Jan. 28, Sen. Jack Reed (R.I.), a cosponsor of the amendment with Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), said that S.2012 needs further focus on the issue of energy storage.

“I am glad to be working with my colleague from Nevada, Sen. Heller, on amendments that support more efficient use of federal funding for energy storage research at the [DOE] and encourage energy storage usage in public utilities,” Reed said, according to a webcast of the speech.

He said that the amendment would give the Secretary of Energy the ability to coordinate energy storage research and development projects among the existing programs at DOE to maximize the amount of funding that goes toward research and minimize administrative costs.

“We feel it does not have that flexibility at the moment,” he said.

S.2012 would allocate $50 million annually from 2017-2026 for the proposed grid storage program.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) introduced S.2012 last September. On Jan. 27, Murkowski commenced debate of the bill on the Senate floor. In her remarks, Murkowski said S.2012 is the first major energy bill that the Senate has debated in more than eight years.

“It is a good bill, a timely bill, a bipartisan bill, and it deserves overwhelming support from this chamber,” she said.

S.2012 is the result of more than a year of work by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which last July voted 18-4 to report the bill to the full Senate for consideration.

Since Murkowski opened the bill for debate, a wide range of amendments have been submitted for consideration, including an amendment to create a national energy efficiency resource standard and another to modify a provision relating to national goals for geothermal production and site identification.

Reed and Heller also cosponsored another amendment to S.2012 related to energy storage at the state level.

Reed said their proposed addition to S.2012 would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act so industry and state regulators must consider energy storage when making their energy efficiency plans.

The amendment states that each state would have to consider requiring that, “prior to undertaking investments in new generation, transmission or other capital investments, an electric utility … must demonstrate … that the electric utility considered an investment in an energy storage system based on appropriate factors, including total costs, cost-effectiveness, improved reliability, security, and system performance and efficiency.”

According to the Senate record, the amendment had not been proposed for debate as of Feb. 2.

Lead image credit: Senate floor webcast.

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Jennifer Delony, analyst for TransmissionHub, started her career as a B2B news editor in the local and long-distance telecommunications industries in the '90s. Jennifer began covering renewable energy issues at the local level in 2005 and covered U.S. and Canadian utility-scale wind energy as editor of North American Windpower magazine from 2006-2009. She also provides analysis for the oil and natural gas sectors as editor of Oilman Magazine.

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