March 02, 2020

S.2657, American Energy Innovation Act

NOTEWORTHY

Background: The American Energy Innovation Act consists of more than 50 energy-related measures reported by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during the 116th Congress.

Floor Situation: Majority Leader McConnell filed for cloture on February 27 on a motion to proceed to S.2657, the American Geothermal Innovation Leadership Act. This bill will be the vehicle for the AEIA. A vote to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed is scheduled for March 2, with debate and a vote on passage sometime that week.

Executive Summary: The dozens of individual measures included in this package are primarily split into two titles: (I) innovation and (II) supply chain security. Title III repeals various outdated grant programs and studies.

The innovation title includes provisions promoting energy efficiency; encouraging development of clean or renewable energy sources such as hydro, wind, geothermal, and nuclear, as well as storage technologies; and strengthening efforts to reduce carbon emissions such as carbon capture, utilization, and storage. The title also reauthorizes the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (more commonly known as ARPA-E) through fiscal year 2025 and expedites approval of small scale liquefied natural gas projects.

The supply chain security title includes provisions requiring reports from various federal agencies relating to rare earth minerals; incentivizing grid modernization and cybersecurity protections throughout the electricity production and distribution system; and strengthening federal energy-related workforce development.

NOTABLE PROVISIONS

Title I: Innovation

Section 1002 – Energy efficiency materials pilot program

Requires the secretary of energy to establish a pilot program to improve energy efficiency at nonprofit organizations.

Section 1004 – Grants for energy efficiency at public school facilities

Authorizes the secretary to award competitive grants to make improvements to schools to reduce energy costs including installing renewable energy technologies and electric vehicle infrastructure.

Section 1012 – Career skills training

Directs the secretary to provide grants to help fund career skills training programs in which students receive a certification for the installation of energy efficient building technologies.

Section 1031 – Energy and water performance requirements for federal buildings

Extends federal building energy efficiency improvement targets through 2028 and creates water use reduction targets through 2030.

Section 1037 – Energy efficient data centers

Requires the secretary to develop a metric for data center energy efficiency and maintain an open data initiative on federal data center energy usage.

Section 1101 – Weatherization Assistance Program

Reauthorizes the Weatherization Assistance Program through fiscal year 2025. Makes technical training grants available to private contractors that provide weatherization assistance and to people involved in weatherizing low-income housing.

Section 1201 – Hydroelectric production incentives and efficiency improvements

Extends incentives for hydroelectric production and efficiency contained in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 through fiscal year 2036.

Section 1203 – Advanced geothermal innovation leadership

Establishes a program to transfer and adapt oil and gas technologies for geothermal development. Reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s geothermal research and development program for five years. Creates a process for expedited geothermal energy exploration on public lands.

Section 1204 – Wind energy research and development

Authorizes the secretary of energy to establish a wind energy technology program to promote innovation and development relating to wind energy, including efforts to reduce negative impacts on wildlife.

Section 1205 – Solar energy research and development

Authorizes the secretary to establish a solar energy technology program to promote innovation and development of solar energy, including the integration of solar energy onto the grid.

Section 1301 – Better energy storage technology

Establishes a research, development, and deployment program for energy storage technologies, in which the secretary must carry out at least five demonstration projects. Directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a regulation on energy storage cost recovery.

Section 1402 – Establishment of coal and natural gas technology program

Requires the secretary to establish a program to improve carbon capture, utilization, and storage projects.

Section 1404 – Carbon utilization program

Directs the secretary to establish a research, development, and deployment program for carbon utilization to identify uses for various forms of emitted carbon or materials containing carbon, such as coal.

Section 1405 – Carbon removal

Establishes a program to develop technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a large scale. Creates an air capture technology prize competition.

Section 1501 – Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program

Replaces DOE’s existing Nuclear Energy Systems Support Program with a new Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program to continue operation of existing nuclear power plants through advanced technologies and reduced plant costs.

Section 1502 – Nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration

Authorizes an advanced nuclear energy research program.

Section 1612 – Development of national smart manufacturing plan

Requires the secretary to develop a national plan to improve the productivity and efficiency of the domestic manufacturing sector.

Section 1703 – Authorization of appropriations for vehicle technologies

Reauthorizes DOE’s vehicle technologies program through fiscal year 2025.

Section 1706 – Medium- and heavy-duty commercial and transit vehicles program

Directs the secretary to carry out a program to aid in development of advanced technologies for various kinds of large commercial and transit vehicles.

Section 1801 – Veterans health initiative

Requires the secretary to carry out a research program to use artificial intelligence and high-performance computing to improve health care for veterans.

Section 1802 – Small scale LNG access

Expedites approval of exports of small volumes of natural gas by deeming applications up to 51.75 billion cubic feet per year to any country to be consistent with the public interest.

Section 1808 – ARPA-E reauthorization

Reauthorizes the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy through fiscal year 2025 and authorizes a total of $2.9 billion over 5 years.

Title II: Supply Chain Security

Section 2101 – Mineral security

Requires the executive branch to designate a list of critical minerals and update the list every three years. Requires the United States Geological Survey to assess the domestic availability of critical minerals and publicly report its findings.

Section 2102 – Rare earth element advanced coal technologies

Requires the secretary to develop advanced separation technologies for the extraction and recovery of rare earth elements and minerals from coal and coal byproducts.

Section 2201 – Incentives for advanced cybersecurity technology investment

Requires FERC to establish incentive-based rate treatments to encourage utilities to invest in cybersecurity technology and participate in cybersecurity threat information sharing programs.

Section 2202 – Rural and municipal utility advanced cybersecurity grant and technical assistance program

Requires the secretary to establish a competitive grant program to promote cybersecurity for rural and municipal utilities.

Section 2210 – Grid storage program

Directs the secretary to conduct a program to help develop grid energy storage.

Section 2306 – Clean energy workforce pilot program

Creates a pilot program for the secretary of labor to provide competitively awarded cost-shared grants to support on-the-job training or pre-apprenticeship programs related to careers in renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid modernization, or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

ADMINISTRATION POSITION

The administration has not yet issued a statement of administration policy regarding this bill.

COST

The Congressional Budget Office has not yet issued a cost estimate for this bill.