Senate Releases Much-Anticipated Comprehensive Energy Package

Mar 9, 2020

by ASME.org

Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced the American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA) last week, a much-anticipated, comprehensive energy bill that would “modernize domestic energy laws to ensure the United States remains a global energy leader while also strengthening national security, increasing our international competitiveness, and investing in clean energy technologies.” Senator Murkowski is the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Senator Manchin serves as the Committee’s Ranking Member. The bipartisan legislation addresses energy efficiency; renewable energy; energy storage; carbon capture, utilization, and storage; advanced nuclear; industrial and vehicle technologies; the reorganization of the Department of Energy; mineral security, cyber and grid security and modernization; and workforce development.

This bill is the result of over a year’s worth of hearings, meetings, and bipartisan negotiations. The bill is as accumulation of many smaller legislative efforts previously approved by the Committee, including a provision that would reauthorize the advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) through FY2025, as well as provisions that address nuclear energy, fossil fuels and carbon capture, and solar and wind energy generation and storage.

Major R&D provisions include:

  • reauthorization of DOE’s applied energy research programs, as well as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy through 2025.
  • reauthorization of DOE’s research program on next-generation light water reactor and advanced reactor fuels through FY 2025.
  • authority for DOE to establish new research programs focused on crosscutting industrial emissions reduction technologies, advanced energy storage technologies, and carbon capture and utilization for industrial systems.

Tech Transfer
Section 1805 would establish an Office of Technology Transitions at DOE, which will be headed by a Chief Commercialization Officer appointed by the Secretary. This section also requires the Secretary to conduct a review of all applied energy R&D programs at DOE that focus on technologies that reduce emissions and provide a report to Congress.

Manufacturing
In the “Industrial Technologies” section of the bill, a whole segment is dedicated to improving U.S. leadership in advanced manufacturing technology to further enable energy innovation. There, the bill directs the Secretary of Energy to work with the National Academies to develop a national plan for smart manufacturing technology development and deployment. Additionally, the bill encourages the Department to leverage existing programs to support small and medium manufacturers, and to leverage existing National Laboratory infrastructure to further advance “smart manufacturing,” a term defined in the bill. Further, the bill encourages “State Manufacturing Leadership” and authorizes the Secretary to provide financial assistance to States to establish programs that will support the implementation of smart manufacturing technologies.

Workforce Development
The bill would establish a 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board to propose a strategy for DOE to support the development of a skilled energy workforce. Additionally, the bill would establish two pilot programs: one would award grants for apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs that deliver skills and training relevant for working at the national laboratories, and the other would work with the Secretary of Labor to award  grants to support on-the-job training or pre-apprenticeship programs related to careers working in renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid modernization, or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

A section-by-section summary of the bill can be found at: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=files.serve&File_id=CC266AB2-6E09-4BEE-88E2-BCFC5C87EBF6.

The full bill can be read here: https://www.energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?a=files.serve&File_id=09AF16B7-1920-4C22-96E2-26039A24B55D.

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