September 25, 2019

Wyden Energy Storage, Hydro-Power Legislation Advances

Washington, D.C. – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today passed a comprehensive energy storage package that includes provisions from U.S. Senator Ron Wyden’s Reducing the Cost of Energy Storage Act to promote the research and development of ways to lower the cost of energy storage technologies to make it possible for renewable energy to be used on a more reliable and affordable basis.

The Committee also advanced Wyden’s Marine Energy Research and Development Act, which would increase domestic production of low-carbon, renewable energy from the natural power in ocean waves, tides and currents.

“To tackle the climate crisis, America needs to move to renewable energy. Harnessing the natural power of the ocean and ensuring affordable energy storage are key to that transition,” Wyden said. “The federal government should be all hands on deck in promoting innovation and new technologies that will save our planet and lower utility bills for American families.”

The energy storage package – the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act – passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee today includes the following provisions:

  • Research and Development: Requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a cross-cutting energy storage system research and development program with the goal of reducing the cost and extending the duration of energy storage systems—including provisions from Wyden’s Reducing the Cost of Energy Storage Act and co-sponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Jack Reed, D-R.I., and Chris Coons, D-Del.
  • Demonstration Projects: Requires DOE to undertake at least five energy storage system demonstration projects, including a minimum of one project designed to address seasonal variations in supply and demand. 
  • Joint Long-Duration Demonstration Initiative: Establishes a joint program between DOE and the Department of Defense to demonstrate long-duration storage technologies.
  • Technical and Planning Assistance: Establishes a program at DOE to assist electric utilities with identifying, evaluating, planning, designing, and developing processes to procure energy storage systems.
  • Recycling Prize: Establishes a prize competition at DOE to advance the recycling of critical energy storage materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.
  • Regulatory Actions: Requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to conduct a rulemaking to develop standard processes for utilities to recover energy storage system costs in FERC-regulated rates.

The Marine Energy Research and Development Act also passed by the Committee today provides federal resources to encourage private investments in renewable energy projects that use the power in oceans to produce electricity. The legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Angus King, I-Maine, Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, and Jack Reed, D-R.I.