Electricity Markets

APPA applauds inclusion of storage, grid security, efficiency in Senate legislation

The American Public Power Association on March 3 expressed support for a recently introduced Senate energy bill package and is pleased to see that the legislation addresses many issues important to public power including energy storage, energy efficiency and grid security.

In a letter to Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Joy Ditto, President and CEO of APPA, said that APPA “greatly appreciates the work” that the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has put into the energy bill package and is pleased to support it.

Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Manchin, the committee’s ranking member, on Feb. 27 released the American Energy Innovation Act of 2020 (AEIA), which focuses on renewable energy, energy storage and cyber and grid security and grid modernization, among other things.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held legislative hearings and business meetings throughout 2019 and reported more than 50 energy-related bills to the full Senate on an individual basis. Most of those measures were compiled in the American Energy Innovation Act of 2020.

“The legislation addresses many issues important to public power, including energy storage, energy efficiency, and grid security, as well as promoting much needed research and development for carbon capture utilization and storage technologies, which will be needed to address climate change,” Ditto noted. 

She said that APPA also supports provisions to promote renewable resources, including hydropower and geothermal, and advanced nuclear technologies, “all of which will be needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  In addition, APPA appreciates the inclusion of language on workforce development for the energy sector.”

Energy storage

Ditto said APPA strongly supports the inclusion of language from the Better Energy Storage Technology Act (section 1301). “The development of energy storage technologies is key to assisting utilities in managing the variability of intermittent renewable resources,” she wrote.

“The legislation will promote research, development, and deployment of these needed technologies, including pumped storage, at DOE, as well as create a demonstration and technical assistance program at the department that public power utilities could utilize.”

Grid security

In addition, APPA “greatly appreciates the inclusion of language from S. 2095, the Enhancing Grid Security Through Public-Private Partnerships Act, into section 2204 of the bill,” Ditto said. 

The language is modeled on an existing, successful public-private partnership funded through the Department of Energy’s Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response under the Cybersecurity Energy Delivery Systems program. 

Inclusion of this language in the energy package “will enable APPA to continue its important work with public power utilities across the country, particularly smaller- and medium-sized utilities, by bringing them greater resources, training, and tools for cyber and physical security.”

Federal buildings

Ditto also highlighted APPA’s support for elements of the legislative package that relate to federal buildings.

In particular, the Association appreciates the inclusion of language in section 1033 regarding the use of energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) at federal buildings. ESPCs can play an important role in reducing energy and water use at federal buildings, Ditto noted.

“However, ESPCs are not suitable for federal hydropower facilities that provide power marketed by a Power Marketing Administration or the Tennessee Valley Authority and the legislation rightly prohibits the use of ESPCs at these facilities.”

AEIA’s repeal of section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act regarding fossil fuel-generated energy consumption at federal buildings is also supported by APPA. Section 1031 of AEIA replaces the requirement with efficiency measures that will truly drive energy efficiency in federal buildings. 

“Replacing current law, which creates uncertainty for energy providers and limits innovation to only those technologies that can meet the near impossible standard established in section 433, will allow the federal government to take advantage of highly efficient technologies and achieve actual energy savings,” wrote Ditto.

The Senate is expected to vote on the legislative package this week.