March 24, 2015 Capitol Update

In this issue:



U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have renewed their push for a national energy efficiency strategy by introducing an updated version of the Portman-Shaheen Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESIC). The legislation has received bipartisan Congressional support and buy-in from a number of industry stakeholders, but has repeatedly been bogged down by unrelated energy issues such as the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Portman-Shaheen legislation uses a variety of low-cost tools to help energy users become more efficient while making the country’s largest energy user – the federal government – reduce its energy use through the use of energy-efficient technology. The deficit neutral bill incentivizes the use of efficiency technologies that are commercially available today, can be widely deployed across the country, and quickly pay for themselves through energy savings. The reintroduced bill incorporates an additional ten bipartisan amendments that will help the United States transition to a more energy-efficient economy while driving economic growth and private sector job creation.

A study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that this would save consumers $530 million a year and cut CO2 emissions and other air pollutants by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road by 2030.

Portman-Shaheen is co-sponsored by Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), John Hoeven (R-ND), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

To read the bill, go to and search by bill number, S. 720.



With a decline in federal scientific research threatening the United States’ standing as a leader in discovery and innovation and global competitiveness, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) has announced his plans to introduce an American Innovation Act, a bill that would fund basic research on a consistent, steady growth path over the next decade by providing annual budget increases of five percent for research at five federal research agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science, the Department of Defense Science and Technology Programs, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Scientific and Technical Research, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science Directorate.

“The American Innovation Act will make funding for critical science research projects less political and more predictable. It will allow America’s smartest scientists and researchers to spend less time figuring out how to cut their budgets and more time finding new ways to produce clean energy and clean water and other solutions that the world needs,” Durbin said. “U.S. government support for scientific research has helped split the atom, defeat polio, conquer space, create the Internet, map the human genome and much more. I am introducing this bill so that we can continue to invest in the best ideas of our scientists and America will remain the land of the future for generations to come.”

Federal funding for R&D has been on a downward trend for the past several decades. The federal government spends almost two-thirds less on research and development today than it did in 1965 as a portion of total discretionary spending. Accounting for inflation, federal funding for science has lost 20 percent in purchasing power in just the last three years due to sequestration budget cuts. The intent of this legislation aims to reverse this trend and close the nation’s invention and innovation deficit.



The Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee held a hearing this week entitled, “The State of Technological Innovation Related to the Electric Grid.” Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) opened the hearing noting that the Committee is planning broad energy legislation that will include electric grid technology development issues.

“It is always best when public policy responds to proven technology advancements. Today, however, we must hope technology can deliver solutions to meet political mandates while satisfying our expectations for reliability and affordability. Two major questions I have are: over what time period can solutions be developed, and at what cost? Credible estimates hold that new grid technologies alone will require a cumulative investment of between $300 and $500 billion over the next 20 years.”

The hearing included testimony from: Dr. Michael Howard, President and CEO of the Electric Power Institute, who provided an overview of the changing integrated grid; Dr. Peter Littlewood, Director of the Argonne National Laboratory, who discussed federal research efforts on grid modernization and energy storage; Dr. Jeff Taft, Chief Architect for Electric Grid Transformations at the Pacific Northwest Laboratory, who spoke about PNNL’s work with smart grid technologies and grid modernization; Lisa Barton, Executive Vice President, Transmission for the American Electric Power Company, who shared the perspective of a major utility that operates the nation’s largest electricity transmission system, with 40,000 miles of transmission lines to deliver electricity in 11 states; and the Honorable Lisa Edgar, a Commissioner at the Florida Public Service Commission and President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, who provided the states’ perspective.

Full witness testimony and an archived webcast of the hearing is available at:



At nearly $1.3 trillion in estimated global revenue for 2014, the market for advanced energy products and services is as large as apparel and fashion and almost four times the size of the semiconductor industry worldwide, according to a report commissioned by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), a national business association. In the United States, advanced energy market revenue grew 14 percent last year – five times the rate of the U.S. economy overall – to just under $200 billion, making it bigger than the airline industry, equal to pharmaceuticals, and nearly equal to consumer electronics in this country.

The study found that advanced energy in the United States was an estimated $199.5 billion market in 2014. Areas of growth included solar energy (up 39 percent) and natural gas generating equipment (48 percent), in long-anticipated response to lower-priced natural gas supplies. Wind power, which suffered a severe setback in 2013 due to the on-again, off-again federal production tax credit (PTC), rebounded in 2014 with four-fold growth, to $8.2 billion, and a pipeline of projects that could result in revenue rivaling the $25 billion realized in 2012, its biggest year to date.

Advanced Energy Now 2015 Market Report is the third annual report of market size, by revenue, of the advanced energy industry, worldwide and in the United States, produced by Navigant Research for AEE. This year's report contains four years of revenue data, starting with 2011. Among the findings:

  • With global revenue up 12 percent over 2013, 2014 was the biggest growth year for advanced energy worldwide since AEE began tracking these markets in 2011.
  • U.S. advanced energy revenue has grown 38% over the four years from 2011 to 2014 representing 15 percent of the world market.
  • With the addition of new revenue data on residential energy efficient lighting, Building Efficiency is now the largest segment of the U.S. advanced energy market, with revenue of $60.1 billion in 2014. Counting only those products for which AEE has four years of data, revenue growth in Building Efficiency is 43 percent over four years.
  • In 2013, the severe downturn in wind energy due to uncertainty over the federal production tax credit (PTC), with revenue dropping to $2.1 billion from $25.5 billion in 2012, was enough to offset growth in other segments of U.S. advanced energy to show an overall decline of  four percent year over year. But wind bounced back in 2014, to $8.2 billion, nearly four times 2013 revenue.
  • Including wind, the Electricity Generation segment of advanced energy grew 47 percent overall in the U.S., to $45.8 billion in 2014. Solar photovoltaic (PV) revenue was up 39 percent, to $22.5 billion, capping four-year growth of 173 percent. Natural gas generating equipment (combined cycle and simple cycle gas turbines) saw an increase for the first time in four years, with U.S. revenue up 48 percent to $6.4 billion – a sign that the natural gas revolution is now translating into new orders, not just higher utilization of existing natural gas power plants.

The full Advanced Energy Now 2015 Market Report is available for download at:



The U.S. Department of Energy has released a new report looking at the future of wind power through 2050 and the economic benefits that come with a robust wind industry. The report, Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, confirms that with technological advancements driving projected cost reductions, in combination with continued siting and transmission development, wind power can be economically deployed to provide renewable power in all 50 states.

The report highlights the importance of wind in the nation’s energy portfolio and how critical it is to advance wind’s position in the energy marketplace to maintain the nation’s existing wind manufacturing infrastructure and economic benefits. The report includes a roadmap that defines actions needed to realize the substantial economic and social benefits of a robust wind energy future. Through continued cost reductions and further investments in wind energy systems, wind power is projected to be directly competitive with conventional energy technologies within the next decade.

In 2013, an estimated total of more than 50,000 American jobs were supported by wind investments. The report projects that wind could support more than 600,000 jobs by 2050 in industries such as construction, engineering, transportation, manufacturing, operations, maintenance, and supporting services.

The report also highlights the public health and environmental benefits of wind today and into the future. As a clean energy source, wind power could displace more than 12.3 gigatonnes of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, equating to a global economic value of $400 billion. Additionally, growth in the wind sector could lower the cumulative electric sector expenditures by $149 billion by 2050.

To review the report, please visit:



The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program is offering to fund research projects that address specific challenges in the fields of advanced manufacturing, climate change and clean energy, cybersecurity, health care and bioscience.

The NIST SBIR program seeks to fuel technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role small business plays in meeting federal R&D needs and bringing to market innovations derived from federal research and development. The program also works to increase participation by socially and economically disadvantaged persons and women-owned small business concerns.

These SBIR “Phase I” awards are intended to determine if the proposed research is feasible, and to gauge how well the awardee performs that research. The awards can provide up to $100,000 over a performance period of seven months. Awardees that successfully complete their Phase I research projects will be eligible to apply for Phase II funding to develop the technology further.

The NIST 2015 SBIR solicitation names 15 specific technologies for development and an opportunity for technology development of commercially promising NIST-developed technologies.

Review the 2015 SBIR proposal solicitation for a full explanation of the SBIR process, rules and the specific challenges the proposals should address. The solicitation is available at:
Unsolicited proposals, i.e. proposals that do not address the challenges outlined in the SBIR proposal solicitation, will not be accepted. The solicitation closes May 15, 2015.



The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)  and other space agencies around the world are preparing for the fourth annual International Space Apps Challenge, which will be held April 10-12 at more than 135 locations worldwide, including New York, host of the event’s Global Mainstage.

During this three-day code-a-thon, participants are asked to develop mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualization and platform solutions that could contribute to space exploration missions and help improve life on Earth.

This year’s challenge will include the first ever Data Bootcamp, with a focus on Women in Data. The bootcamp is open to the public and will give participants the opportunity to improve their skills with computer coding and data. The April 10 bootcamp will stream live online from the Global Mainstage.

More than 200 data sources, including data sets, services and tools will be available for this challenge. This event brings together techy-savvy citizens, scientists, entrepreneurs, educators, and students to help solve problems and questions relevant to space exploration and broader subjects that impact life on Earth.

This year, 35 challenges represent NASA mission priorities in four areas: Earth studies, space exploration, human health research and robotics. Many of the challenges are in the Earth theme, supporting NASA’s missions to monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space.

A full list of challenges can be viewed at


The articles contained in Capitol Update are not positions of ASME or any of its sub-entities, unless specifically noted as such. This publication is designed to inform ASME members about issues of concern being debated and discussed in the halls of congress, in the states and in the federal agencies.

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