The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on September 25 passed a comprehensive, bipartisan energy storage package that included legislation supported by the American Public Power Association.
During the Committee meeting, S. 1602, the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act, which was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), was amended to incorporate language from four additional energy storage measures previously considered by the committee:
- S. 1593, the Promoting Grid Storage Act of 2019 [Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN)];
- S.1183, the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy Act of 2019 [Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)];
- S. 1741, the Reducing the Cost of Energy Storage Act of 2019 [Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)]; and,
- S. 2048, the Joint Long-Term Storage Act of 2019 [Sen. Angus King (I-ME)].
In May, the American Public Power Association voiced support for the Promoting Grid Storage Act, which would boost research and development of technologies to increase energy storage capabilities and make public power utilities eligible for storage technical assistance and grants.
Along with the Association, the legislation was supported by the Energy Storage Association (ESA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
Letters were sent to the chairmen and ranking members of the House Energy and Commerce and Science, Space, and Technologies Committees and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee expressing support for the bill.
In the letters, the groups note that energy storage “is a powerful tool for grid operators to enhance electric system resilience, lower energy costs, manage load and adapt to a changing power supply mix. Nonetheless, the unique attributes of energy storage technologies present a learning curve for grid operators, with technical and financial hurdles that can serve as a barrier to their optimal use.”
The Association, NRECA and ESA said that the Promoting Grid Storage Act would address these challenges by authorizing the DOE to support states, investor-owned electric utilities, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives to incorporate storage into long-term planning and grid operations.
The American Public Power Association also supported the BEST Act.
The expanded BEST Act includes $280 million over the next five years for energy storage research and development at the Department of Energy (DOE), including for multiple demonstration projects to examine seasonal shifts in supply and demand, joint DOE-Department of Defense research on long-duration storage technology, and a prize competition to develop recycling programs for critical storage resources, such as lithium and critical minerals.
The legislation also creates a DOE technical assistance program to assist electric utilities in procuring energy storage systems and requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to develop a standard process for utilities to recover energy storage system costs.
Public power utilities would be eligible for the demonstration projects and for the technical assistance program through the DOE.