July 09, 2019
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) advocated today for the Joint Long-Term Storage Act, a bipartisan bill he introduced with Senator Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) in a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources (ENR) Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy. The bill could have tremendous impacts nationally and for the military, and seeks to improve America’s long-duration energy storage technology through strategic collaboration between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Energy (DOE). Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) is also a cosponsor of the bill, and all three Senators serve on both the ENR Committee and the Armed Services Committee. Today’s witness panel included Bruce Walker, Assistant Secretary in the Office of Electricity at the DOE, and Shawn Bennet, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oil and Gas in the Office of Fossil Energy at the DOE.
“Energy, particularly the transportation of energy, is more and more important to our military, everything from radios on the backs of soldiers to fuel for tanks,” said Senator King during the hearing. “During one of the Gulf Wars, Secretary Mattis said ‘unleash me from the tether of fuel’. It was a real problem, in fact lack of fuel stopped George Patton in World War II when he was headed across Europe.”
“This is not only important for the grid, and for the economy generally, but it’s a national security issue. Senator McSally, Senator Heinrich and I have a bill…to work to develop a joint project with the Department of Defense, which is already doing research in this area and Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) or the Department of Energy and I hope you will look with favor on that proposal,” Senator King continued. “I think it makes a lot of sense because this is an aspect of this issue that doesn’t get all that much discussion. The [DOD] is the largest single user of energy in the United States, and battery storage, and storage for them is not only something nice to have, important to have but it’s a vital national security concern.”
Assistant Secretary Walker then applauded Senator King’s work on the Joint Long-Term Storage Act, saying “I applaud the bill that you’re proposing with regard to the partnership with DOD because it significantly expands our capability to leverage the expertise within DOE and our National Labs, and our partnerships with industry and academia to meet the needs of our most important critical infrastructure throughout the U.S.
The expanded availability of long-duration energy storage will increase the impact of renewable energy by allowing consumers to store excess energy for use during non-peak production hours. In addition, long-duration energy storage will increase America’s grid reliability by increasing the reliability of renewable energy, and bolster our national security by reducing the need for our military to transport flammable liquid fuels. The transportation of these fuels through dangerous territory puts servicemembers in danger.
A forceful advocate for clean energy solutions, Senator King successfully advocated for the inclusion of funding for storage projects in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act which passed the Senate last month. The bill includes $10 million in funding for on-base long duration energy storage projects that will last for at least 100 hours. He also secured a provision authorizing $10 million to be spent on the development, demonstration and validation of secure microgrids for both installations and forward operating bases. He has also cosponsored the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act, bipartisan legislation which would establish an investment tax credit (ITC) for business and home use of energy storage.