Cantwell Introduces Bills to Modernize, Protect Nation’s Energy Grid

Measures will also boost clean energy workforce training

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, reintroduced four bills on grid modernization, smart buildings, cybersecurity, and workforce development, which will collectively help accelerate our nation’s transition to a cleaner and more diverse energy system. The bills are expected to be incorporated into bipartisan legislation being developed by the Energy Committee. 

“These bills will help lower energy costs for Americans by making our buildings and electricity grid smarter and more secure,” said Senator Cantwell. “We are also investing in training the workforce we need to transition to a cleaner energy system and create new family-wage jobs.” 

Cantwell’s four bills are summarized below: 

S. 2332, the Grid Modernization Act of 2019 

This bill, cosponsored by Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), would authorize new Department of Energy (DOE) demonstration programs to modernize the grid with storage, microgrids, and distribution-level investments in technology like electric vehicle chargers and advanced distributed generation. In addition, the bill requires DOE to provide a series of "off-the-shelf" tools to local and state grid regulators to accelerate the adoption of new technology and grid controls. These tools would reflect the diversity of various states and include architectural analysis of the grid, performance metrics for new technology, and distribution network planning. 

S. 2335, the Smart Building Acceleration Act of 2019 

This bill, cosponsored by Senator Tina Smith (D-MN), accelerates the transition to smart buildings by supporting research and by documenting the costs and benefits of emerging technologies in private-sector and federal government buildings. Specifically, it requires a survey of privately-owned smart buildings, directs smart building retrofits in certain federal buildings to quantify costs and benefits, and directs research and development toward reducing the barriers to the adoption of smart building technology. 

S. 2333, the Energy Cybersecurity Act of 2019 

This bill, cosponsored Senator Heinrich, creates several programs within DOE to identify, enhance, and test supply chain vulnerabilities and response capabilities between the DOE and other agencies, national labs, and private industry. The bill looks to secure energy networks, bolster industry participation in information sharing, address the cyber workforce, enhance monitoring tools, and expand DOE’s cooperation with the intelligence community. 

S. 2334, the 21st Century Energy Workforce Act of 2019 

This bill, cosponsored by Senator Hirono, establishes a 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board, a nationwide advisory board at the Department of Energy for the development of a skilled energy workforce in both traditional and clean energy sectors. The legislation also establishes a competitive workforce grant program to build partnerships with state and local government, industry, and community colleges to provide job training through a community college or registered apprenticeship program to provide students with industry-recognized credentials.