WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the support of U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), the Senate today passed The Energy Policy Modernization Act, a bipartisan energy bill with several provisions authored by Senator King that would support Maine’s renewable energy resources, such as biomass and hydropower, and that would empower greater personal energy independence. As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator King helped craft the legislation earlier this year, which reflects common ground on energy efficiency, infrastructure, innovation, and land conservation efforts. Its passage today represents the first time since 2007 that the Senate has passed a comprehensive energy bill.
“By modernizing the energy grid, promoting the growth of innovative energy technologies, and supporting the use of renewable energy resources, this legislation will not only help create jobs, but it will also help contribute to more abundant, diverse, and affordable energy for Americans,” Senator King said. “It will also help bolster Maine biomass during this critical time for the industry by requiring that federal agencies are on same page when it comes to biomass policy, and it will provide important guidance to states seeking to modernize their policies for distributed technologies like solar. This bipartisan bill will play a fundamental role in shaping America’s energy future and in protecting public lands for generations to come.”
Importantly, the legislation includes an amendment authored by Senator Collins and cosponsored by Senator King that would help ensure that federal policies for the use of clean, renewable energy solutions like biomass are clear and simple. Specifically, the amendment would require the Secretary of Energy, the Secretary of Agriculture, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency to jointly provide that federal policy relating to forest bioenergy is consistent across all departments and agencies and that the full benefits of forest biomass for energy, conservation, and responsible forest management are recognized. The amendment would also direct these federal agencies to establish clear and simple policies for the utilization of biomass as an energy solution.
Additionally, the legislation contains several amendments offered or supported by Senator King during the Energy Committee’s work on the bill earlier this year, including:
- An amendment, in line with Senator King’s Free Market Energy Act, that would require the Department of Energy to provide badly-needed federal guidance to states as they work to settle disputes over the future of distributed energy resources such as solar, wind, and storage technologies. Specifically, the amendment would require the Department of Energy to conduct a study on net metering and release related guidance to ensure that owners of DERs are properly compensated for the energy they add to the electricity grid. The study would be intended to serve 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.
- An amendment requiring a report from Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations to identify barriers to the deployment of distributed energy resources and micro-grid systems. Like the study above focused on net-metering, this report would support the development of these innovative technologies that are expanding personal energy independence for people in Maine and across America.
- An amendment permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a conservation program that has helped preserve millions of acres of land in Maine. Senator King has long advocated for a permanent LWCF reauthorization and just yesterday he and Senator Collins announced more than $900,000 in funding for Maine under LWCF.
- An amendment establishing a 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.
- An amendment, in line with Senator King’s Small Hydropower Dependable Regulatory Order (Small HyDRO) Act, 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 without jeopardizing safety or environmental standards.
- An amendment, in line with the Marine and Hydrokinetic Renewable Energy Act cosponsored by Senator King, reauthorizing the Department of Energy’s marine renewable energy programs, which conduct research on the development of renewable energy generated through waves, currents, ocean tides, and free-flowing water in lakes and rivers. 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.