Cantwell, others float bills to boost grid, smart buildings

Source: Manuel Quiñones, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) released a series of bills Friday that address grid modernization and security, the energy workforce and smart building concerns.

Several members of the House Climate Solutions Caucus also pushed for legislation meant to address climate and energy challenges.

The proposals from Cantwell come as she and Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) are pushing for the Senate to take up S. 1460, their broad energy reform bill, and as lawmakers look to craft an infrastructure overhaul that will likely touch numerous sectors.

Murkowski and Cantwell have spoken of wanting energy issues addressed in the infrastructure push. Many of the provisions in the ranking Democrat’s bills are in S. 1460, for which Murkowski still hopes to get floor time.

Cantwell introduced S. 2447, the “Smart Building Acceleration Act,” with Sen. Tina Smith (D-Minn.) to survey and study so-called smart buildings, and push for retrofitting federal structures.

Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) introduced a companion bill in the House, Cantwell’s office said.

Cantwell also introduced S. 2444, the “Enhanced Grid Security Act,” with Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) as a co-sponsor, to create new programs within the Department of Energy to address vulnerabilities in the power system.

S. 2445, the “Grid Modernization Act,” co-sponsored by Heinrich and Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), would push new technologies, including those related to microgrids and electric cars.

Cantwell’s S. 2449, the “21st Century Energy Workforce Act,” co-sponsored by Hirono, would establish a workforce board and grant program to address related challenges.

“This legislation will help modernize and protect our energy infrastructure to give consumers more choices and lower bills,” Cantwell said in a statement. “Upgrading our energy infrastructure and investing in our workforce provides one of the strongest returns on investment to create jobs and grow the clean energy economy.”

Separately, House lawmakers introduced the following energy and water bills last week:

  • H.R. 5031, from Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), to create a prize competition related to climate and energy. It has several bipartisan co-sponsors, all of them members of the Climate Solutions Caucus.
  • H.R. 5042, from Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.), to create a Financing Energy Efficient Manufacturing Program at DOE.
  • H.R. 5030, from Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act to help small water treatment works.