Powering Strong Communities

House, Senate reach deal on energy bill that includes provisions that APPA supports

The House and Senate on Dec. 14 reached a deal on a bipartisan, bicameral energy bill that includes several provisions that the American Public Power Association supports.

Lawmakers hope to include the “Energy Act of 2020” in a must-pass government funding bill.

The draft energy bill, which covers a wide range of energy topics including nuclear power, energy efficiency, energy storage, and carbon capture, is the result of a compromise between the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA), introduced last March by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), and the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act, which passed the House of Representatives in September by a vote of 220 to 185.

Controversial provisions, and those which APPA did not support, including several Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act section 111(d) “must consider” requirements, a requirement for the Department of Energy (DOE) to report on the interregional transmission planning process, and for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a rulemaking on the interregional transmission planning process, did not make it into the final energy package.

At the same time, the bill does not include language APPA supported to assist public power and rural electric cooperatives with their cybersecurity efforts.

 Overall, several provisions that APPA supports made it into this compromise deal, while provisions that APPA opposed in the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act (H.R. 4447) have not been included.

 Notable provisions include:

  • Section 1002: While reordered from introduced bill text, this section is substantially similar to the Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnerships Act of 2019 (S. 1706/H.R. 3079), including the exclusions for the Power Marketing Administrations and Tennessee Valley Authority that APPA supports;
  • Section 3201: Provisions from the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act (S. 1602/H.R. 2986) which APPA supports. This section would support research, development, and deployment of energy storage technology and includes an energy storage pilot program for which public power would be eligible;
  • Section 3202: An energy storage and microgrid technical assistance program to support the evaluation, design, and demonstration of energy storage and microgrid technologies by rural electric co-ops, public power distribution utilities, or non-profits working with several eligible entities;
  • Section 8002: Establishes a research, development, and demonstration program at DOE for grid modeling, visualization, and controls. This section includes language from the Grid Modernization Research and Development Act (H.R. 5428), including an amendment APPA staff worked with congressional staff to develop based on member feedback that would direct DOE to conduct research and development on tools and technologies that improve the interoperability and compatibility of new and emerging components, technologies, and systems with existing grid infrastructure;
  • Section 8013 and 8014: Reauthorizes Indian Energy programs, including providing flexibility to reduce cost-share requirements and requires a federal assessment of electricity access and reliability for tribal communities;
  • Section 8015: Requires DOE to study the “opportunities and challenges” as well as the medium and long-term impacts of net metering; and
  • Research, development, and deployment programs at the DOE for wind energy, solar energy, critical minerals, carbon capture and removal, and grid modernization, among others. In total, the bill would authorize over $35 billion in spending on research over the next ten years.