Cantwell Touts Biggest Advancements to Nation’s Energy Policies in Over a Decade

Cantwell’s Grid Modernization Act and Smart Building Acceleration Act incorporated into landmark package

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sweeping bipartisan energy legislation was included in the year-end COVID-19 relief and omnibus bill passed by the Senate last night, including many provisions Senator Cantwell authored and introduced while she served as Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the 114th and 115th Congresses. The legislation authorizes over $35 billion for research and development over the next decade in critical areas including renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, and carbon capture technologies, all of which will be essential to decarbonizing our nation’s energy system and addressing the climate crisis. The legislation also reforms the energy loan guarantee program, extends the weatherization program, and provides new tech transfer tools for Energy Department Laboratories like the Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL).

“Modernizing our nation’s energy grid will make America’s electricity supplies more secure, abundant, and affordable,” said Senator Cantwell. “Making our nation’s buildings smarter and more efficient will lower utility bills and greenhouse gas emissions from a sector that accounts for 40 percent of all U.S. energy use. All told, these energy provisions are the most progress we’ve made to our nation’s energy policies in a decade.”

Two bills authored by Senator Cantwell were incorporated into the landmark package, including Senate Bill 2332, the Grid Modernization Act of 2019, which authorizes over $2.2 billion over the next decade to fund R&D and programs at the Department of Energy aimed at modernizing our nation’s electricity grid. Provisions include a grant program aimed at demonstrating the value of modernizing our nation’s electricity grid, the development of "off-the-shelf" tools for local and state grid regulators to accelerate the adoption of new technology and grid controls, and a new program focused on developing hybrid microgrids for isolated communities. The legislation also reauthorizes provisions from Senator Cantwell’s Smart Grid title that was included in the 2007 Energy Bill, like the smart grid regional demonstration program.

The omnibus package also incorporated Senate Bill 2335, Senator Cantwell’s Smart Building Acceleration Act of 2019, which will support new research into smart buildings, including 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 technologies.

Senate Energy Committee Chair Murkowski, one of the bill’s primary champions, expressed her gratitude to Senator Cantwell for her contributions to the bill on the Senate floor on Monday night, saying in part: “I see that my friend from the great state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest is here. I am very thankful and appreciative of your leadership and what you have provided over the years, working together with your team we have accomplished good things for the right reasons.”

Cantwell has made making our nation’s energy system cleaner, more efficient, and more diverse one of her top priorities.  She leverages her membership on the Senate Energy, Commerce, and Finance Committees to push her vision of a clean energy economy and to support budding clean energy industries.