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Senators Collins, Heinrich Lead Bipartisan Group in Introducing Energy Storage Bill to Bolster Renewables, Fight Climate Change

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ remarks on the Senate Floor.


Washington, D.C.—In order to accelerate the development of next-generation energy storage, U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Coons (D-DE), Martha McSally (R-AZ), and Angus King (I-ME) introduced the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act today.  Their bipartisan legislation will support grid-scale energy storage research and development and improve the efficiency of the nation’s electric grid, while helping to align research efforts on energy storage technologies.


“Next generation energy storage devices will help enhance the efficiency and reliability of our electric grid, reduce energy costs, and promote the adoption of renewable resources,” said Senator Collins.  “Our bipartisan legislation would help catalyze the development of this technology that holds great promise in the fight against climate change by supporting clean energy generation, including wind and solar.”


“As a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, advocating for the research and development of long-term energy storage has been a top priority,” said Senator Heinrich. “I am proud to join Senator Collins to introduce the Better Energy Storage Technology Act and invest in reshaping the power industry. This bipartisan legislation offers federal agencies and national labs the opportunity to modernize our energy grid with advanced storage technologies that can provide days, even months, of capacity. With advances in solar and wind energy, New Mexico remains a leader in the charge towards a clean energy future. This bill adds the extra spark to boost New Mexico power grids – with the potential to do the same around the globe.”


“Investing in research and development for energy storage technologies is a key component to an all-of-the-above energy strategy and will allow the United States to remain a global leader in energy research and development,” said Senator Gardner. “As we rely more and more on renewable energy sources like wind and solar, it is critical to invest in energy storage to enhance grid resiliency. This commonsense, bipartisan proposal shows members on both sides of the aisle are committed to working together to pursue technologies that will help our environment and grow our economy.”


“We know that enhancing our energy storage capabilities contributes to both our nation’s economic and energy security.” said Senator Smith. “This bipartisan effort will improve our collective efforts to store energy and expand the use of renewables like wind and solar energy.”


“Our top scientists and energy experts tell us that grid-scale storage is crucial to build on the progress we’ve already made to use renewable energy and limit greenhouse gas emissions,” said Senator Coons.  “The BEST Act is a prime example of the concerted, bipartisan effort to invest in energy innovation and American ingenuity. The 5 demonstration projects supported by this legislation will be key in commercializing the technologies we are working to develop across our federal agencies, universities, and National Labs.”


“Storage is the key to fully unlocking the immense potential of renewable energy – providing us with a reserve to maximize clean power,” said Senator King. “If clean energy technology is to truly power America’s future, it’s important that we have effective and long-lasting storage capacity to maximize our natural resources. The bold action we need to respond to the threats of climate change relies on this technology, and I’m proud to join my colleagues to continue to push for much-needed advancements in the field of storage.” 


“Accelerating the development of energy storage technologies is a necessary step toward energy independence and a cleaner energy economy that supports new jobs and cleaner air,” said Kristin Jackson, Federal Policy Outreach Coordinator, Natural Resources Council of Maine.  “These technologies will play an increasingly important role as we transition toward an energy system that includes large volumes of grid-scale power from solar and wind. We commend the Senator for advancing research and development of the innovative technologies we will need to create the electrical grid of the future.”  


“Audubon supports bipartisan solutions that reduce harmful carbon emissions” said Renee Stone, National Audubon Society’s Vice President for Climate. “This is important legislation that will get us to a clean, renewable energy grid faster by investing in the development of storage technologies. Audubon applauds Senators Collins, Heinrich, Gardner, Smith, Coons, McSally, and King for sponsoring legislation that will benefit birds and people by helping carbon-free energy grow as a share of the grid.”


“Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES) applauds Senator Collins’ leadership to advance energy solutions,” said CRES Executive Director Heather Reams. “As a CRES Clean Energy Champion, Senator Collins understands the importance of strengthening our nation’s energy storage RD&D programs. The BEST Act ensures that America’s innovative spirit is working toward the rapid commercialization of clean energy technologies, including grid-scale storage research and other breakthrough technologies. CRES supports these efforts as ways to give our nation additional choices for cleaner, reliable, and more affordable sources of power.”


“Grid-scale battery storage is one of the most important and promising technologies to help address climate change, but technology advances are needed to lower costs and accelerate its adoption in the U.S. and around the world,” said Christopher Guith, Acting President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Energy Institute.  “That’s why we’re proud to support the bipartisan BEST Act, which will increase funding for breakthrough storage solutions to power the grid and complement the continued growth of renewable and other clean generation. We encourage all members of Congress to cosponsor and support passage of this important legislation.”


“The BEST Act goes straight to the heart of what’s needed to leverage every clean energy source - from renewables to nuclear - in our 21st century electricity system,” said Rich Powell, ClearPath Action Executive Director.  “This bipartisan group of lawmakers is taking charge on a key piece in a larger puzzle toward accelerating technological innovation that promises to bolster energy security, reliability, resilience and system flexible in an ever-cleaner and affordable U.S. and global power grid."


“We applaud Sens. Collins (R-ME) and Heinrich (D-NM) and Reps. Foster (D-IL) and Herrera Beutler (R-WA) for their bipartisan work on Better Energy Storage Technology Act (BEST Act),” said Michele Stockwell, Executive Director  of Bipartisan Policy Center Action. “Our current electricity grid is expensive to maintain, requiring utilities to invest nearly $100 billion a year to uphold. Grid-scale storage would create significant efficiency gains by reducing the need for new generation capacity, transmission, and distribution infrastructure. Federal investment and support in energy research, such as this, sparks job creation and enhanced competitiveness of critical industries like manufacturing, while making American energy systems more affordable, reliable and clean.”


“NHA supports Senator Collins’ efforts to advance the nation’s grid-scale energy storage, and believes the BEST Act is critical to its growth”, said Linda Church Ciocci, CEO and President of National Hydropower Association (NHA). “Today, pumped storage hydropower represents 95 percent of all installed capacity of energy storage, and it can sustainably grow by another 35 gigawatts. Responsible development of pumped storage, particularly in areas with significant deployments of variable or intermittent renewable generation would significantly improve our nation’s grid reliability. NHA looks forward to working with Senator Collins and other stakeholders to ensure pumped storage continues to play major role in creating a more resilient, modern electric grid.”


“We commend Senator Collins and Heinrich for introducing the Better Energy Storage Technology (BEST) Act and Senators Gardner, Smith, McSally, Coons, and King for co-sponsoring the legislation. Energy storage provides the flexibility necessary for a more resilient, efficient, sustainable and affordable grid. Public investments in technology demonstration are critical to readying the next generation of storage technologies to handle stresses on the electric system, particularly over longer durations. If enacted, the BEST Act will authorize the Department of Energy to undertake new public-private partnerships for proving promising electrochemical, thermal, and physical storage technologies in actual electric grid operations. Doing so will ensure a fuller range of storage options is available to meet the needs of a 21st century electric system. ESA is pleased to endorse the BEST Act and notes that Sen. Collins and her colleagues join a diverse set of leading legislators in the House and Senate who all agree that advancing energy storage is a priority,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of Energy Storage Association.


“UCS believes that the federal government has an essential role to play in modernizing our outdated electricity system.  The accelerated development and commercialization of new energy storage technologies will lead to a cleaner, more affordable, more resilient and reliable power grid.  The BEST Act will strengthen our federal commitment to innovation in energy storage technologies, helping the U.S. optimize its abundant, clean energy resources.  We welcome and support this effort as part of a suite of robust policies urgently needed to help make deep cuts in carbon emissions to address climate change,”  said Robert Cowin, Director of Government Affairs, Climate & Energy, of Union of Concerned Scientists.


“The BEST Act recognizes the vital importance of accelerating innovation and deployment of energy storage technology, which is essential to eliminate carbon pollution from our energy system and sustain the competitiveness of the United States in the global economy,” said David Hart of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). “The federal government, in partnership with the private sector, must drive energy storage forward, and the BEST Act would take key steps to make that happen.”


Grid-scale energy storage systems provide a range of benefits including increased resilience and reliability on the grid.  Next-generation energy storage devices will also 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 next generation energy storage systems is cost. This legislation aims to increase the affordability of this technology by directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to pursue a strategic plan and implement cost targets. 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.


Specifically, the BEST Act:


  • Focuses grid-scale energy storage research and development on:


  • Highly flexible power systems with a minimum duration of six hours and with a lifetime of at least 8,000 cycles of discharge at full output and 20 years of operation;


  • Long duration storage systems with power output of 10 to roughly 100 hours, with a lifetime of at least 1,500 cycles and 20 years of operations;


  • Seasonal storage systems that can store energy over several months and address seasonality concerns.


  • Supports up to five demonstration projects to advance commercialization of grid-scale energy storage technologies.


  • Directs DOE to develop a strategic plan and cost targets for grid-scale energy storage.


  • Accelerates testing and validation of energy storage systems through our National Laboratories.


  • Requires coordination and alignment of research efforts to produce commercially viable energy storage systems through coordination at DOE, National Laboratories, federal agencies, and end users.


  • Authorizes $60 million annually for the program from 2020 to 2024.


The BEST Act has been endorsed by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions (CRES), ClearPath, the Energy Storage Association, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), the National Audubon Society, the National Hydropower Association, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the Solar Energy Industries Association, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.


Click HERE to read the text of the bill.

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