117th Congress & Solar/Storage/Energy


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else

What's Congress doing in 2021 with Energy?​

This thread is to list what's going on and for members to discuss it. The original bills are being linked rather than articles (too often the writer has either a lack of true understanding or some motivation, by looking at the source you can draw your own conclusions).

Please keep in mind the forum rules - it's okay to discuss the bills, not okay to discuss people/party motives/agendas.

How can I reach my representative to let them know how I feel?​

Your congress persons can be found here: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members

Who's Who at the DOE?​

The Department of Energy (DoE) is the organization that oversees the enactment of most energy bills. Here's a who's who for 2021:

The current Secretary of Energy is Jennifer Granholm. She's a lawyer with an interesting past that includes:
The more boring stuff includes a long prestigious legal career including being the Michigan Attorney General
and two terms as Governor and afterward taught law and served on a few boards of directors for
Companies like Dow. While Governor she was very pro alternative energy.

While perhaps not well steeped in the sciences of energy, she does seem to have the skills needed to run a large entity like the DOE.

Here's a link to all the new leadership: https://www.energy.gov/articles/department-energy-announces-new-senior-leaders

Most seem to be lawyers, environmentalists, or biologists....they all look so young .... probably just haven't updated their photos.
Here are the ones I see that have some actual science background that stands out:

Tanya Das - Chief Of Staff, Office of Science
Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy
Kelly Speakes-Backman most recently served as the first CEO of the Energy Storage Association, the national trade organization for the energy storage industry. Speakes-Backman has spent more than 20 years working in energy and environmental issues in the public, NGO, and private sectors. In 2019, she was honored by The Cleanie Awards as Woman of the Year. A B.S. in M.E.

She's interesting as she's worked in Energy Storage.

Shuchi Talati - Chief Of Staff, Fossil Energy at U.S. Department of Energy
B.S. in Environmental Engineering and PhD in Engineering

Jennifer Wilcox, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy
Jennifer Wilcox, Mathematics & Chemical Engineering, time with and Energy Policy.

Well ladies, we're all depending on you!
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
HR 156 - Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act of 2021

  • to direct the Secretary of Energy to establish and carry out a comprehensive, nationwide energy-related industries jobs program, and for other purposes.
  • This Act may be cited as the “Blue Collar to Green Collar Jobs Development Act of 2021”.
  • “$100,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2021 through 2025.”...
So, $400M of the $1.9T "plan" is in this bill (There's a breakdown of where the rest of the money is going here, $350B to schools, small business assistance, $15 minimum wage, health insurance, stimulus payments, etc.).

So, how does the bill direct them?
  • (A) financial assistance awards, technical assistance, and other assistance the Secretary determines appropriate, to educational institutions and covered organizations and programs, including those serving unemployed energy workers; and
  • (B) internships, fellowships, traineeships, and apprenticeships at the Department of Energy, including at the Department of Energy national laboratories.
Education? In 201.f the guidelines seem to be to provide grants to educational institutions to to develop programs to develop skills for an energy industry workforce? Includes solar, batteries, fuel cell, hydro, wind, geothermal.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else

H.R.448 - Energy Resilient Communities Act

To direct the Secretary of Energy to carry out a grant program to improve the energy resilience, energy democracy, and security of communities, prioritizing environmental justice communities, and for other purposes.

This looks like a program for the Secretary of Energy to provide up to $10M grants:
(b) Use Of Funds.—An eligible entity may use a grant provided under the program established pursuant to subsection (a) to—
(1) obtain technical assistance to—​
(A) upgrade building codes and standards for resiliency to climate change hazards (including wildfires, flooding, sea level rise, landslides, drought, storms, temperature extremes, and other extreme weather events);​
(B) develop a FEMA Hazard Mitigation Plan to identify and overcome known climate change hazards to critical community infrastructure; or​
(C) conduct a needs assessment of prospective clean energy microgrid projects and, as applicable, design prospective clean energy microgrids, including assistance to address permitting and siting challenges, understand and facilitate financing options, and understand the technical characteristics of clean energy microgrids;​
(2) provide community outreach and collaborative planning with respect to a prospective project described in paragraph (3); or
(3) carry out a project to develop and construct—
(A) a clean energy microgrid that supports critical community infrastructure; or​
(B) a clean energy microgrid for residences of medical baseline customers.​

So, this looks a lot more like a jobs program. Sec 2g talks about using American made goods, 2h about wages. $1.5B per year from 2022 to 2031. So, communities could use this to ramp up storage needs. $10M at any one site isn't a whole lot, and that's 150 activities per year. On the one hand I like that the pie is distributed, on the other hand I don't like we're not addressing the nation's needs holistically. Quite possibly we still don't have the whole picture. Really nice provision in there for tribal and indigenous communities, sure hope some of them are on Will's forums and start looking into it.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Some notable activities from the prior congress:

H.R.476 - Solar Expansion of Distributed Generation Exponentially Act or the Solar EDGE Act
This bill increases for 2 years tax credits that apply to solar property with a nameplate capacity of less than 20 kilowatts.

H.R.1684 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide tax credits for energy storage technologies...

HR 3597/S 2668, the Solar Energy Research & Development Act
This bill requires the Department of Energy to carry out a program to award grants or enter into contracts and cooperative agreements to research, develop, and evaluate solar energy technologies and systems.

HR 5511 / S.3109 - Interregional Transmission Planning Improvement Act of 2019
Require FERC to reform the interregional transmission planning process

S.3229 Solar and Geothermal Tax Credit Expansion Act

H.R.4447 - Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act
Has a number of moving parts, the most interesting of which are probably:
  • awards grants to assist rural electric cooperatives with identifying, evaluating, designing, and demonstrating energy storage and microgrid projects that utilize energy from renewable energy sources;
  • adds energy storage systems to the list of strategies states should consider
  • provide grants to certain businesses to pay the wages of employees when they are receiving training for jobs in the renewable energy
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
S.1062 - A bill to prohibit the procurement of solar panels manufactured or assembled in the People's Republic of China. (No text yet)

H.R.998 - Offshore Wind Jobs and Opportunity Act

H.R.806 - Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator Act
Establishes a non-profit, setup by the president, to be known as the Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator. Mandate:
  1. providing financing support for investments in the United States in low- and zero-emissions technologies and processes in order to rapidly accelerate market penetration;
  2. catalyzing and mobilizing private capital through Federal investment and supporting a more robust marketplace for clean technologies, while avoiding competition with private investment;
  3. enabling climate-impacted communities to benefit from and afford projects and investments that reduce emissions;
  4. providing support for workers and communities impacted by the transition to a low-carbon economy;
  5. supporting the creation of green banks within the United States where green banks do not exist; and
  6. causing the rapid transition to a clean energy economy without raising energy costs to end users and seeking to lower costs where possible.
H.R.848 - GREEN Act of 2021
....provide incentives for renewable energy and energy efficiency...

H.R.1484 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to modify the energy tax credit to apply to qualified distributed wind energy property.

H.R.1557 - To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to extend certain credits related to solar energy.
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
H.R.1588 - To modernize the hydropower licensing process and to promote next generation hydropower projects, and for other purposes.

Possibly related to this from Mr. Westerman who introduced it:
Why not put hydroelectric plants on existing dams? We don't have to build new dams. We can add 12,000 megawatts of clean, carbon-free hydropower on existing dams.

H.R.1689 - To amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to apply to territories of the United States, to establish offshore wind lease sale requirements, to provide dedicated funding for coral reef conservation, and for other purposes.
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Solyndra x1000...when will they ever learn?

Seem like high expectations. ;)

Politicians can't be experts in all technologies, most are lawyers and very non-technical. There are exceptions, for example Mark Kelly, John Glenn, John “Jack” Swigert were all astronauts. There have been doctors and engineers in their ranks. But congress is about writing laws, so it's no wonder so many are lawyers.

Congress is passing laws/regulations to deal with trade, handle nuclear waste, determine which substances (e.g., crack cocaine) constitute a risk to public health, and oh yeah how to make sure all Americans have power at affordable prices and so on. A president has over 20 senior advisors trying to clue them into what's going on and probably don't have scientific backgrounds. Members of Congress have congressional aides to assist them, but usually those are folks interested in political sciences more than the other sciences. It would be impossible for them or their staff to be experts on everything. What typically happens is some person/company that are experts write the new law and "sells" it to a member so they can introduce it. That system is a bit of a problem. A company I worked for set up a PAC that made contributions just to get face time so they could explain the industry problems from their point of view. I understand the company's point of view, it's impossible to get heard unless you can get the representatives attention. It's up to Congress to make sure it isn't too fishy and as I said, they're not experts - fortunately, for every person/company that wants the law to pass and put forth the best arguments for it - there's usually an opposing force doing the same thing - that's how congress gets educated. Same thing at the state level, but probably less access to expertise.

Brian Deese is the"Climate and Energy" advisor to the president. From Wikipedia, he's a BA in Political Science and a JD in Law:
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in international politics and economics from Middlebury College in 2000 and a Juris Doctor from Yale Law School in 2009.[4]
As Global Head of Sustainable Investing, Deese led BlackRock's Sustainable Investing Team which "is focused on identifying drivers of long-term return associated with environmental, social and governance issues."[18] In an interview with The Weather Channel, Deese was asked about BlackRock's "heavy investments" in the fossil fuel industry.[19] Deese said that BlackRock's role is to provide clients with "more choices and more options" in investments and "this is not just about excluding entire industries or entire classes of companies, but it’s also about getting to understand, again, which of these companies is better positioned for the transition." [19]

Politicians are not technical experts, the good ones are like judges weighing the arguments that have been brought to them.
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
Changes to the thread:
  • Update the DOE information in the OP
  • added HR 1689 to #7
  • Added H.R.4447 to #5

Came across some folks I'd never heard of before (ref):
the Congressional Research Service (CRS) works exclusively for the United States Congress, providing policy and legal analysis to committees and Members of both the House and Senate, regardless of party affiliation. As a legislative branch agency within the Library of Congress, CRS has been a valued and respected resource on Capitol Hill for more than a century.

CRS is well-known for analysis that is authoritative, confidential, objective and nonpartisan. Its highest priority is to ensure that Congress has 24/7 access to the nation’s best thinking.

So, the good news is there is an organization concerned with fact-checking and objective analysis. Their reports are also public, but not organized by bill number.
Here's a couple of examples:
Compiled by: Ashley J. Lawson, Coordinator Analyst in Energy Policy
From google, assuming it's the same person, looks like an intelligence analyst that started in Afghanistan and has been doing research for the last decade. Has a blog of research too.​
...current levels of generation from VRE sources have not created widespread reliability issues. Sufficient backup capacity is usually available, and system operators and participants are developing new practices to address the variability of wind and solar sources.
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else

Build Back Better

So, what’s in the +$2T plan regarding renewable energy?

Renewed Electric Grid - $100 Billion
  • investment tax credit that incentivizes the buildout of at least 20 gigawatts of high-voltage capacity power lines
  • new Grid Deployment Authority at the Department of Energy focused on right-of-ways
  • extension and phase down of tax credit for clean energy generation and storage
  • Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) aimed at cutting electricity bills and electricity pollution
  • Mandate that federal buildings must be powered by "clean"

Create jobs electrifying vehicles - $174 billion
  • Support American workers to make batteries and EVs.
  • Point of sale rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs.
  • build a national network of 500,000 EV chargers by 2030
  • Didn't see any infrastructure projects directly related to renewables or storage; but there were tax credits so basically government enabling others.
  • The tax credits also apply to new technologies like hydrogen demonstration plants.
  • The Grid Deployment Authority being focused on right-of-ways ... possibly targeted at fixing California's transmission issues?
  • "cutting electricity bills and electricity pollution" hopefully this doesn't mean introducing TOUs in the optimistic hope people will voluntarily cut back.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
H.R.2241 - To direct the Secretary of the Interior and the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a Civilian Climate Corps

The Build Back Better plan includes $10 billion to create a federal Civilian Climate Corps, akin to the Civilian Conservation Corps that was established in 1933 as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal.

“We can put thousands of Americans to work right away rebuilding crumbling infrastructure on our public lands — some of which dates back all the way to the original Civilian Conservation Corps,” Sen. Martin Heinrich


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else


On 10 March 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it is in the initial stages of designing and constructing a US$75 million grid energy storage facility in Richland, Washington. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will host the Grid Storage Launchpad (GSL), a facility that will serve as a hub for the accelerated development of long-duration and low-cost grid energy storage. The facility will include 30 research laboratories with testing chambers that assess new grid energy storage technologies under real-world grid operating conditions. The project will bring the DOE, researchers, and industry together in collaboration on the deployment of grid-scale energy storage. The GSL construction should begin later this year, and the building is expected to be operational by 2025.

In addition to federal funding, the Washington State Department of Commerce pledged US$8.3 million for research equipment and specialized instrumentation. Washington’s Department of Commerce also signed a memorandum of understanding with the DOE’s Office of Electricity to collaborate on-grid energy storage technologies, support the energy storage innovation ecosystem, and share best practices with other states.


On 15 March 2021, the DOE announced the distribution of US$2 million in research grants to four research and development projects designed to create clean hydrogen production technologies. The recipients are researchers who are exploring different methods of producing hydrogen, including the process of co-gasification. Co-gasification blends waste from biomass, plastic, and coal feed stocks with oxygen and steam under high pressure and temperatures to create hydrogen. Currently, natural gas is the main source for hydrogen production. By funding research into the development of “green hydrogen” sources, the DOE is working to advance the Biden Administration’s climate change goals.

The funds were distributed to: Auburn University to study the gasification performance of select feedstock mixtures in a laboratory-scale fluidized-bed gasifier; Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. to test a moving-bed gasifier using coal, biomass, and waste plastic blends to generate clean hydrogen; University of Kentucky Research Foundation to develop and study a coal, biomass, and plastic blend fuel; and the University of Utah to leverage a high-pressure, slurry-fed, oxygen-blown entrained-flow system to enable co-gasification of biomass and waste plastic by creating slurries of coal, biomass pyrolysis liquids, and liquefied plastic oil.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
H.R.2369 - To require the Secretary of Energy to establish a program to provide rebates for expenditures for energy efficient electrotechnologies that are used to replace fossil fuel-fired technologies, and for other purposes.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
S.528 — 117th Congress (2021-2022)La Paz County Solar Energy and Job Creation Act
Converts 4,800 acres of land managed by the BLM to the county of La Paz Arizona at the fair market value. Doesn't provide any stipulations for how the land is to be used. Might have something to do with the 6000 acres conveyed last year for 850 MW of solar. This is probably it, a new 200 MW project.


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
FERC reverses PURPA -- ref

SEIA was instrumental in getting the decision reversed, WAY to Go Abby!
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Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
H.R.2637 - To promote the domestic exploration, research, development, and processing of critical minerals to ensure the economic and national security of the United States
Reduce dependance on foreign sources of minerals necessary for Energy Development


Works in theory! Practice? That's something else
H.R.2822 - To require the Secretary of Energy to carry out an energy storage research program, loan program, and technical assistance and grant program

H.R.2823 - To provide for the consideration of energy storage systems by electric utilities as part of a supply side resource process

H.R.2852 - To promote the domestic manufacture and use of advanced, fuel efficient vehicles and zero emission vehicles, encourage electrification of the transportation sector, create jobs, and improve air quality

H.R.2854 - To amend the Federal Power Act to require the Electric Reliability Organization to propose a reliability standard that addresses the resilience of the bulk-power system
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H.R.2885 - To require the Secretary of Energy to establish an electric grid resilience grant program and an electric grid resilience research and development program

H.R.2887 - To provide for certain Department of State actions relating to global climate change, and for other purposes

H.R.2948 - To direct the Secretary of Energy to establish a rebate program to promote the purchase and installation of electric vehicle supply equipment