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July 30, 2015

King Secures Provisions in Energy Bill to Help States Modernize Electricity Grid

WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) today spearheaded the passage of an amendment through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that would provide badly-needed federal guidance to states as they work to settle disputes over the future of distributed energy resources.

            “As more and more people recognize the advantages of making their own power, states and utility companies are duking it out over how to best incorporate these new distributed resources into the electric grid,” Senator King said. “But without any guidance from the federal government, there’s no referee in the fight. My amendment would direct the Department of Energy to conduct a study on net metering and publish guidance that can be used by states on how these new and innovative distributed technologies can play a role in our energy future.”

More specifically, this amendment would require the Department of Energy to conduct a study on net metering and release related guidance to ensure that owners of distributed energy resources (DERs) are properly compensated for the energy they add to the electricity grid. The study would be available as unbiased guidance to help mediate ongoing battles at the state level, such as those seen in Arizona and Hawaii, where the future of distributed energy resources is unclear. The study requirement is similar to a provision in Senator King’s Free Market Energy Act, a broader bill that would promote individual energy independence and improve national security by helping states to create a true free market for distributed energy resources.

The amendment authored by Senator King passed today as part of a broader, bipartisan energy bill – the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 – that reflects common ground on energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and land conservation. The bill also contains several other provisions authored or supported by Senator King:

  • Report from Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations that will identify barriers to deployment of distributed energy resources and micro-grid systems. Like the net metering study and Senator King’s Free Market Energy Act, this report would support the development of these innovative technologies that are expanding personal energy independence for people in Maine and across America.
  • Regulatory Improvements for Hydropower that would help streamline an overly-burdensome permitting process for hydroelectric dams, which is currently holding back states like Maine from fully realizing the benefits of hydropower. The provisions would help eliminate unnecessary regulatory hurdles that stand in the way of generating clean, reliable electricity.
  • Investment in Marine and Hydrokinetic Power Technologies through reauthorizing the Department of Energy’s marine renewable energy programs that conduct research on the development of renewable energy generated through waves, currents, ocean tides, and free-flowing water in lakes and rivers. The provision mirrors the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act introduced by Senator King and his colleagues earlier this year. In Maine, the provision would help innovative enterprises like Ocean Renewable Power Company, which deployed the Cobscook Bay Tidal Energy Project, the first commercial, grid-connected tidal power system in the country and the first ocean energy project to be delivering power to the public grid anywhere in the U.S.
  • Permanent Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund that would balance land acquisition with other conservation programs important to states and would permanently reauthorizes the Historic Preservation Fund, both set to expire this fall. It also creates a new National Park Maintenance and Revitalization Fund, to address the maintenance backlog at some of our nation’s most treasured public places, like Acadia National Park in Maine.

The Energy Policy Modernization Act builds on recent technological breakthroughs and promises to bring substantial benefits to American families and businesses while protecting the environment. Its provisions will save energy, expand domestic production, facilitate investment in critical infrastructure, protect the electrical grid, boost energy trade, improve the performance of federal agencies, and reauthorize certain programs that have proven effective. The end result will be more affordable energy, more abundant energy, and more functional energy systems that will strengthen and sustain our energy nation’s renaissance. The bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act will also achieve these goals in a fiscally-responsible manner.

The Committee today also passed legislation that would lift the U.S. ban on crude oil exports and rollback restrictions on offshore energy production. Senator King, who opposed that bill, released the following statement:

“I’m open to having a conversation about offshore energy production and restrictions on crude oil exports, but oil can’t be the only energy future this nation has. We need an all-of-the-above energy strategy – and, unfortunately, that’s not what this bill represents,” Senator King said. “This bill offers little for consumers and even less in the way of developing the clean, renewable sources that are going to define our energy future. Lifting crude oil exports or offshore production without investing in those priorities at the same time would only hurt American consumers. As this bill makes it to the floor, I hope we can pursue a more balanced approach that also takes into account the role that green technologies can play here in America.”


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