July 20, 2010

Senators Say Investments in Renewable Energy Must be Backed by the Capacity to Store It

Bingaman, Wyden and Shaheen introduce legislation to ensure that - even in off-peak hours - renewable energy doesn’t go to waste.

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D.-N.H.) introduced legislation today to provide much needed balance to current energy tax law that offers tax credits for the creation of renewable energy but not the technology to store it.  The Storage Technology of Renewable and Green Energy Act of 2010 Act (STORAGE 2010) would offer up to $1.5 billion in tax credits to storage projects that are connected to the U.S. electric grid.  Increasing energy storage capacity would help promote intermittent energy sources like wind and solar power while reducing energy demands during peak hours and contributing to an overall more reliable smart grid.

 “The increased use of these cutting-edge storage technologies is essential to modernizing our electrical grid and to meeting our clean energy goals.  Expanding our storage capacity will improve the efficiency, flexibility, and reliability of our electric grid, allowing us to wring the most power out of it, while adding large amounts of new renewable energy resources like wind and solar,” said Bingaman, who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee. “In addition, these incentives will make technologies to store renewable energy more affordable for businesses and homes, which could help dramatically cut their electricity bills and reduce pollution.”

“I’m even more convinced today than I was a year ago that the country’s energy future rests on these technologies,” said Sen. Ron Wyden.  “Growing our ability to store renewable energy not only promotes a more efficient use of energy resources, it makes energy sources like wind and solar just as reliable as conventional energy sources that burn fossil fuels.”

“The BP oil spill has demonstrated once again that the transition to a clean energy economy is long overdue,” said Shaheen.  “Investing in clean energy technologies will not only reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels and foreign sources of oil, it will also help create jobs in our communities.  The STORAGE Act will facilitate our transition to a clean energy economy by investing in critical technologies to improve the efficiency and reliability of clean energy sources like wind and solar, and I am pleased to join Senators Bingaman and Wyden in this important effort.”  

The STORAGE 2010 Act offers an investment tax credit for three categories of energy storage facilities that temporarily store energy for delivery or use at a later time. It will also provide tax credits to businesses and homeowners who install energy storage on their own property to help serve their own energy needs more efficiently or capture energy from on-site renewable energy generation. For example, the bill would pay for smart-grid devices to manage the charging and storage of the electricity of plug-in electric vehicles.  Building owners can also use the tax credit to help finance thermal cooling systems, which would make ice at night when electricity is cheaper and use the ice to cool the building during the day.    

The STORAGE 2010 Act will provide a 20 percent investment tax credit of up to $30 million for storage systems connected to the electric grid.  The bill will also provide a 30 percent investment tax credit of up to $1 million to businesses, and a 30 percent tax credit for homeowners, for on-site storage projects. The bill is technology neutral and does not pick storage technology “winners” and “losers.”  Instead, it will offer a broad range of incentives to foster innovation and installation of energy storage technology.

The legislation introduced today is a revision of S. 1091, the STORAGE ACT, a bill Wyden introduced in the last session of Congress.