Utlity Drive: Sen. Murkowski teases prospects for storage as committee advances 22 energy bills

Dive Brief:

  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday advanced 22 energy bills, ranging from nuclear power to energy efficiency and fossil fuel research, through largely bipartisan support.
  • The bill markup did not include proposals for energy storage-related bills, despite a range of bipartisan legislation focused on research and development. The storage industry has been advocating for a technology-specific tax credit to enable further competition in the market and has noted the introduction of bipartisan bills in both the Senate and the House.
  • Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said another energy-related markup in September will consider more energy storage bills, without specifying plans for a potential tax credit. "What I'm trying to do is bring together some proposals, energy related proposals, that I think could make good packages for floor time," she told reporters.

Dive Insight:

Murkowski's past efforts to craft an energy policy legislative package have not progressed to the Senate floor. She said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is seeking floor time for bills with bipartisan, bicameral support.

"I am very cognizant that we're not seeing a lot of legislation on the floor right now. What the Leader is looking for specifically are those measures that will enjoy some bipartisan support, that we can not only advance through the Senate but that can receive a favorable hearing on the House side as well," she said.

While the bills advanced did not include energy storage-specific legislation, other clean energy priorities were addressed, including S. 903, a bill introduced by Murkowski to enable the research, development and deployment of advanced nuclear generation.

S. 903 seeks to increase the length of power purchase agreements to ensure that nuclear projects can recover the costs of construction. The bill would also establish programs to demonstrate advanced nuclear reactor concepts, which could involve a partnership between the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Defense (DOD).

"DOD is a likely candidate" for a partnership on small, advanced nuclear reactors, Murkowski said, noting there is interest from DOD in the technology.

20 bills were advanced en bloc, including Murkowski's nuclear legislation.

The committee also reported S. 1052, submitted by Committee Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in a vote of 18-2. The bill seeks to authorize the Department of Energy to develop separate extraction technologies for coal and coal byproducts. The committee split 11-9 on S. 816, a bill introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., to expedite natural gas exports by amending the Natural Gas Act.

"Moving these to the full Senate is a critical step toward developing the federal goals and public-private partnerships necessary to cross a valley of death that often stops groundbreaking innovation from winning in the marketplace," ClearPath Action Executive Director Rich Powell said in a statement.

Despite the accomplishment of the committee, Murkowski said she is focused on finding opportunities to advance the initiatives into final law.

"I'm more interested in actual accomplishments, signing things into law, than moving them out of the committee," Murkowski said. "There are always vehicles out there."

By:  Iulia Gheorghiu
Source: Utlity Drive