Today the U.S. Senate passed S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, the most significant piece of energy legislation thus far this session. The new legislation met mixed reviews from renewable energy and environmental organizations. While it held some provisions welcomed by the solar industry, other groups like the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) were more wary of the provisions in the bill, which expressed concern that the bill didn’t do enough to promote clean energy.
"The Senate has taken a strong step in the right direction by passing the Energy Policy Modernization Act,” said Christopher Mansour, vice president of federal affairs for Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This legislation contains several notable wins for solar energy.”
“Chief among them are the inclusion of solar heating and cooling as technologies that can meet the federal government’s renewable portfolio standard, language directing the Energy Department to identify appropriate costs and benefits for the valuation of distributed generation (DG) solar, provisions to improve permitting of solar power plants sited on federal lands, and directing the Energy Department to study avian populations and to establish baseline scientific information.” Mansour added that organization plans to work with House and Senate leaders to make sure the bill sent to the President has strong pro-solar policies.
NRDC, on the other hand, had negative things to say about it. ““The Senate has missed a chance to make progress on energy policy, passing a bill that has gotten worse over time,” wrote Associate Director of Government Affairs Marc Boom. The positive steps the bill would encourage are far outweighed by provisions that would delay movement to a clean energy economy and undermine action on climate change.”
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) also was more circumspect of the bill and observed that many of the amendments would hinder grid upgrades and consumer savings. On the other hand it praised amendment 3312, which would create Clean Energy Victory Bonds, allowing everyone to invest in clean energy and would allow local, state, and federal governments to raise billions in investments.
“In order to attract new investment and deliver more savings to American consumers we strongly urge members of the Senate to oppose Amendment 3311 and support Amendment 3312,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “Amendment 3311 would impede private interstate transmission development between America’s world-class energy resources and densely populated parts of the U.S., making it harder to keep the lights on and blocking billions in consumer savings. Building long-range transmission to carry wind energy to U.S. population centers could result in $800 to $1,000 savings per person. By directing the Departments of Energy and Treasury to submit a plan to Congress to develop Clean Energy Victory Bonds, Amendment 3312 would help inject billions of dollars in clean energy innovation and create over one million jobs according to Sen. Udall.”Tweet