Senator Collins’ Bill to Advance Energy Storage Technology Clears Senate Hurdle

The bipartisan BEST Act would promote new technologies, align research, and reduce the cost of promising energy storage systems that help fight climate change

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With broad, bipartisan support, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today advanced a comprehensive energy storage package to the full Senate.  The package was reported as an amendment to the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act introduced by Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine). The committee chose to use Senator Collins’ bill as the foundation of the package to reflect of her leadership on energy storage and clean energy technologies. 

 

In July, Senator Collins testified before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee to urge them to support her bill.

 

“Energy storage technology holds such great promise in the fight against climate change. Supporting current technology and advancing next-generation energy storage will allow us to integrate more renewables, such as wind and solar, which in turn will help to reduce emissions,” Senator Collins said. “The BEST Act will help advance energy storage technologies to improve the efficiency of our nation’s electricity grid and help align research efforts on energy storage. I am pleased this bill has been incorporated into a comprehensive energy storage package, and I encourage all of our colleagues to support this bipartisan piece of legislation.”

 

“Energy storage presents a great opportunity to make the grid cleaner, more resilient, and more affordable,” said Senator Murkowski, the Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “I commend Senator Collins for her leadership and thank all of the members who helped us reach agreement on this consensus package. It will help us advance energy storage technologies, make intermittent resources more competitive, maintain a reliable supply of energy storage materials, and ultimately reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also reflects the best traditions of our committee, which is known for its bipartisanship and constructive engagement.”

 

Energy storage provides a range of benefits including increased resilience and reliability on the grid.  Supporting current and next-generation energy storage devices will complement the growth of clean, renewable resources on the power grid, replacing other sources of energy that release harmful emissions that cause climate change.  In addition to these benefits, energy storage systems can help decrease energy costs by reducing the need for expensive peak power.

 

One of the biggest impediments to the commercialization of energy storage systems is cost. This legislation aims to increase the affordability of this technology by supporting Department of Energy (DOE) research, planning and technical assistance, and demonstration and pilot projects. DOE has successfully demonstrated how federal support for research and development can reduce the cost of innovative technology. For example, DOE’s SunShot Initiative reduced the price of solar by approximately 75 percent in less than a decade.

 

As reported by the committee today, the BEST Act includes the following provisions:

 

·         Research and Development:  Requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to establish a cross-cutting energy storage system research and development program with the goal of reducing the cost and extending the duration of energy storage systems. 

·         Demonstration Projects: Requires DOE to undertake at least five energy storage system demonstration projects, including a minimum of one project designed to address seasonal variations in supply and demand. 

·         Joint Long-Duration Demonstration Initiative:  Establishes a joint program between DOE and the Department of Defense to demonstrate long-duration storage technologies.

·         Technical and Planning Assistance:  Establishes a program at DOE to assist electric utilities with identifying, evaluating, planning, designing, and developing processes to procure energy storage systems.

·         Recycling Prize:  Establishes a prize competition at DOE to advance the recycling of critical energy storage materials such as lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.

·         Regulatory Actions: Requires the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to conduct a rulemaking to develop standard processes for utilities to recover energy storage system costs in FERC-regulated rates.

 

Chairman Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Ranking Member Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., along with Senators Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Martha McSally, R-Ariz., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Angus King, I-Maine, Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Jerry Moran, R-Kan., Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Tina Smith, D-Minn., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Chris Coons, D-Del., helped author the bipartisan packaged reported by the committee today.