Dozens of energy proposals floated in Senate

Source: Nick Juliano and Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski introduced 17 bills she is considering including in a broad energy package as several other members from both sides of the aisle floated their own ideas for inclusion.

The Alaska Republican will brief reporters on her proposals later this afternoon to outline her committee’s schedule for organizing the four-prong energy legislation she’s been working on all year. The package is expected to address energy infrastructure, supply, efficiency and accountability.

The goal: to address the massive changes underway in the energy industry since the last time a comprehensive bill was enacted in 2007 — such as the domestic oil and gas boom spurred by hydraulic fracturing and the transition to lower-carbon sources of energy driven by climate change regulations.

In addition to Murkowski, several other lawmakers have introduced energy bills in recent days, including Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.). Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) also introduced grid legislation today, and bills likely will continue coming in from other members.

The committee held its first energy bill hearing last week to consider a set of proposals that could become part of an efficiency title, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is continuing to assemble its own parallel bill (E&E Daily, May 1).

Text of Murkowski’s bills were not available in time for publication, but their overall focus points to her desire to foster infrastructure and modernize the grid, as well as her concern with electric reliability issues. The senator last month took U.S. EPA to task for calling a high-profile review of the Clean Power Plan “premature” and downplaying the findings (E&ENews PM, April 21).

The North American Electric Reliability Corp.. the grid’s federally appointed overseer, released an assessment of EPA’s landmark proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and called for a delay to provide utilities and states with breathing room to coordinate and adjust to an accelerated shift to natural gas and renewables and account for long lead times needed to build new generation, pipes and wires.

NERC didn’t find the Clean Power Plan would trigger blackouts but noted the report reflects a growing need for new infrastructure, given a raft of expected power plant retirements. NERC officials also expressed hope EPA would include state relief or extensions for those regions facing tight construction and permitting timelines.

Clean energy and environmental groups have taken issue with NERC’s findings, criticizing NERC for not putting more focus on energy efficiency and the building momentum for wind and solar.

Cantwell is introducing legislation aimed at expanding the use of “smart grid” technologies by establishing a program at DOE focused on grid-scale storage and establishing demonstration programs focused on advanced distribution systems and “microgrid” technology, according to a summary.

A Wyden measure would establish a grant program at DOE focused on six key areas, according to a summary: “fine-tuning energy use based on real-time energy prices; innovating power markets to value new energy technologies; determining new retail electricity structures to account for shifts in energy production and the time-value of energy; energy storage; and smart electric vehicle charging.”

Another Wyden bill would transfer certain authority from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to states, on a voluntary basis, to set rates for small renewable energy projects less than 2 megawatts, according to a summary.

Shaheen’s bill would direct DOE to find ways to better integrate distributed generation into the electric bill.

Cassidy’s bill, introduced earlier this week, would allow the Interior Department to authorize rights of way to build natural gas pipelines through national parks.

Yesterday, Hoeven, Capito and Markey touted various bills related to gas pipelines (E&E Daily, May 7). And King is touting legislation aimed at ensuring utilities pay sufficient rates to homeowners with rooftop solar panels, among other goals (E&E Daily, May 6).

A list of pending energy bills follows. Links to bill text and summaries are provided where available.

Murkowski introduced the following bills, and all but one are headed to her committee:

  • S. 1215, to amend the Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act of 2000 to provide for the development of methane hydrate as a commercially viable source of energy.
  • S. 1216, to amend the Natural Gas Act to modify a provision relating to civil penalties.
  • S. 1217, to establish an Interagency Rapid Response Team for Transmission, to establish an Office of Transmission Ombudsperson and for other purposes.
  • S. 1218, to establish an interagency coordination committee or subcommittee with the leadership of the Department of Energy and the Department of the Interior, focused on the nexus between energy and water production, use, and efficiency, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1219, to amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to provide for the safe and reliable interconnection of distributed resources and to provide for the examination of the effects of net metering.
  • S. 1220, to improve the distribution of energy in the United States.
  • S. 1221, to amend the Federal Power Act to require periodic reports on electricity reliability and reliability impact statements for rules affecting the reliable operation of the bulk-power system.
  • S. 1222, to amend the Federal Power Act to provide for reports relating to electric capacity resources of transmission organizations and the amendment of certain tariffs to address the procurement of electric capacity resources, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1223, to amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to improve the loan guarantee program for innovative technologies, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1224, to reconcile differing federal approaches to condensate.
  • S. 1225,, to improve federal land management, resource conservation, environmental protection and use of federal real property, by requiring the secretary of the Interior to develop a multipurpose register of federal real property and identifying inaccurate, duplicate and out-of-date federal land inventories, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1226,, to amend the Mineral Leasing Act and the Mineral Leasing Act for Acquired Lands to promote a greater domestic helium supply, to establish a federal helium leasing program for public land, and to secure a helium supply for national defense and federal researchers, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1227,, to require the secretary of Energy to develop an implementation strategy to promote the development of hybrid micro-grid systems for isolated communities.
  • S. 1229,, to require the secretary of Energy to submit a plan to implement recommendations to improve interactions between the Department of Energy and National Laboratories.
  • S. 1230,, to direct the secretary of the Interior to establish a program under which the director of the Bureau of Land Management shall enter into memoranda of understanding with states providing for state oversight of oil and gas productions activities.
  • S. 1231, to require congressional notification for certain Strategic Petroleum Reserve operations and to determine options available for the continued operation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
  • S. 1236, to amend the Federal Power Act to modify certain requirements relating to trial-type hearings with respect to certain license applications before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and for other purposes.

Other Republicans introduced the following bills this week:

  • S. 1196, sponsored by Cassidy. To amend the Mineral Leasing Act to authorize the secretary of the Interior to grant rights of ways in national parks. Click here for the summary. (See related story.)

Democrats have put forward several proposals, as well:

  • A bill from Cantwell to facilitate modernizing the electric grid. Click here for the summary.
  • S. 1201, from Shaheen, to advance the integration of clean distributed energy into electric grids and for other purposes.
  • S. 1207, from Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), to direct the secretary of Energy to establish a grant program under which the secretary shall make grants to eligible partnerships to provide for the transformation of the electric grid by the year 2030, and for other purposes.
  • S. 1232, from Wyden, to amend the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 to modify provisions relating to smart grid modernization, and for other purposes. Click here for the summary.
  • S. 1233, also from Wyden, to amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to expand the electric rate-setting authority of states. Click here for the summary.
  • S. 1237, from King, to amend the Natural Gas Act to limit the authority of the secretary of Energy to approve certain proposals relating to export activities of liquefied natural gas terminals.