Senate energy bill starting point

The House will be announcing its comprehensive energy and climate bill Tuesday. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, however, “has been working to produce a bipartisan, comprehensive energy bill since the beginning of this Congress,” as a new press release explains.

The Committee, chaired by Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), will be marking up their bill Tuesday. They have just released an outline of key details, which I reprint below. Key features include authorizing the doubling of R&D, a major initiative to create a domestic battery industry for electric vehicles, and a major push to develop and deploy energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies for industry (which I will blog on a later).

Notably missing is a renewable electricity standard and an energy efficiency standard:

Energy Innovation and Workforce Development — Provisions to extend and expand research, development, demonstration and workforce training programs at the Department of Energy (DOE) to enable the technologies needed for our energy future.

1. Authorizes a doubling of current research and development funding levels at the DOE over the next four years. This returns the Federal government’s investment in energy research and development (in real dollars) to the peak levels achieved in 1978, by fiscal year 2013.

2. Authorizes a new “Grand Challenges Research Initiative” to integrate the basic and applied energy research programs at the DOE so that industry gets the maximum benefit of cutting-edge research.

3. Authorizes a Domestic Vehicle Manufacturing Program, focused on electrification of vehicles, with the goal of enabling a domestic battery manufacturing industry for electric vehicles, similar to government-industry partnerships in Japan and Korea.

4. Develops an array of training programs for the energy workforce of the future, particularly for the skilled technician and trade workers needed to construct and maintain energy infrastructure, and for personnel expert in the geosciences needed in several major energy- and climate-related areas (i.e., oil and gas development, geothermal energy, geological storage of carbon dioxide, water development). Coordinates energy-related training programs across the Federal government.

Manufacturing Leadership through Energy Efficiency — Provisions to strengthen American manufacturing through improved industrial energy efficiency, reduced dependence on carbon-based fuels and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

1. Establishes financing mechanisms for both small and large manufacturers to adopt advanced energy efficient production technologies and processes -allowing them to be more productive and less fuel dependent, cutting costs instead of jobs.

2. Stimulates the development and widespread deployment of innovative energy efficient technologies and processes for manufacturing and industry through:

§ Industry-led public-private R&D partnerships to identify and develop the breakthrough technologies needed to reduce energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions.

§ Competitive, innovation grants to industry and small businesses to encourage the development and deployment of new energy efficient technologies.

3. Supports the capture and development of high-tech manufacturing capabilities for advanced energy technologies in the United States, ensuring that the technologies invented here are also produced here, through:

§ Linking DOE’s advanced energy technology R&D programs to its Industrial Technologies Program to get early-stage technology development and manufacturing capabilities out the door into industry.

§ Evaluating and addressing the opportunities and roadblocks to bringing the clean tech supply chain back to the United States, so the United States can better capture global markets in advanced energy technology production.

Energy-Water Integration — Provisions to increase our understanding of the interdependence of energy and water and begin integrating decision-making related to both resources.

1. Requires a National Academy of Sciences Energy-Water Study to assess water use associated with developing fuels in the transportation sector, and the water consumed in different types of electricity generation.

2. Requires the Energy Information Administration to annually report on the energy consumed in water treatment and delivery activities.

3. Directs DOE to identify best available technologies and other strategies to optimize water and energy efficiency in producing electricity.

4. Directs the Secretary of Energy to develop an Energy-Water Research and Development Roadmap to address water-related challenges to sustainable energy generation and production.

5. Directs the Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate energy use in storing and delivering water, and identify ways to reduce such use through conservation, improved operations, and renewable energy integration.

Improved Energy Efficiency in Appliances and Equipment — Energy efficiency continues to be the most cost-effective strategy for enhancing economic and energy security, saving consumers money and reducing the environmental impacts of energy production.

1. Strengthens the two most successful programs in achieving energy efficiency goals: the DOE appliance standards program, and the DOE/EPA Energy Star program. It is estimated that these programs have reduced national electrical demand 10 percent below what it would otherwise be, and have saved consumers an estimated $400 billion.

2. Establishes standards for portable light fixtures — table and floor lamps — based on standards developed in California, and with estimated savings, by 2020, of the amount of electricity needed to serve 350,000 homes.

3. Promotes better decision-making in the DOE standards program by allowing petitions from stakeholders who are seeking revisions to the program’s standards and test procedures, and requiring DOE to give timely responses.

4. Directs three studies to better inform Congress, DOE and the public on: compliance with the DOE standards program; the costs and benefits of requiring direct current electricity in buildings — a possible opportunity to increase efficiency by serving computers, battery chargers and other “plug-in” products; and to assess efficiency opportunities of electric motors, one of the largest electricity consuming sectors.

5. Strengthens the Energy Star Program by requiring DOE and EPA to improve cooperative planning, management and review; require periodic review of Energy Star market share and qualifications; and require 3rd party verification of product testing.