Senate Expected to Take Step Toward a Clean Energy Economy, is the House Next?

Statement by Ken Kimmell, President, Union of Concerned Scientists

Published Apr 19, 2016

WASHINGTON (April 19, 2016)—Today, the U.S. Senate is expected to passed the Energy Policy Modernization Act, bipartisan legislation that supports grid modernization and resiliency, energy efficiency, electric grid energy storage, and clean energy research and development.

Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Kimmell is the former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative board chair.

“The bill is a step in the right direction. Crafted with bipartisan cooperation, it makes progress towards modernizing our outdated electric grid. It also contains good energy efficiency provisions and authorizes increased funding for clean energy research and development.  

“But the work’s not over. It’s now up to Congress to build on this legislation by adopting more robust renewable energy policies. Transitioning to a clean energy economy requires expanding our renewable energy infrastructure and placing a price on carbon, the leading contributor to climate change. In addition, a final bill should remove current provisions that legislate science on the issue of burning wood to generate electricity."

“While not perfect, the bill provides a marked contrast to the partisan energy legislation that passed in the House in December aimed at maintaining the existing fossil fuel status quo. That bill does little to expand the country’s clean energy infrastructure and would make the United States more reliant on fossil fuels like coal. The Senate bill is clearly the more responsible policy and is the version that must ultimately end up on the president’s desk.”

The Senate energy bill is also expected to include provisions aimed at improving the integration of storage batteries into the electric grid, helping rooftop solar businesses push back against utilities that limit their ability to store and use surplus solar energy, and developing and deploying micro-grid systems that can run independently of the larger electric grid.

A related blog post by Rob Cowin, director of government affairs at UCS, analyzing specific provisions of the Senate bill and comparing it to the House version is linked here.