National Progress on Grid Modernization: Grid Forward Visits Capital Hill

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Grid Forward leadership including Executive Director Bryce Yonker, Policy Liaison Cameron Brooks and Britt Bachtel Browning of Avista visited with U.S. congressional offices on December 12th to discuss the importance of energy system innovation and grid modernization. While much of the focus in DC was around other areas, including House impeachment activities and the continuing resolution spending, there was quite a bit of productive discussion around energy related topics.

The office of Rep. Smith (WA) was enthusiastic about by the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act for military spending that came out of the Armed Services Committee he chairs. Their office remains open to modernization and resiliency focused initiatives that would involve grid operators and multi sector collaboration, including around areas of R&D and workforce.

Rep. DeGette (CO) has been on the House Energy and Commerce committee for 22 years and is currently working on the Clean Energy & Innovation Deployment Act which has four titles and may be introduced next year.

  • Title I: Innovation through investment in critical clean energy technologies
  • Title II: Deployment through a Clean Energy Standard
  • Title III: Accelerated Deployment of Breakthrough Technologies
  • Title IV: Assistance for low-income rate-payers

Sen. Cortez Masto (NV) has been on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee since 2018 and is closely following the ITC extension conversations as well as components of the package energy bill, which they believe may work through the committee in pieces. They have a staff person also focused on EV and electrified transportation issues and are looking at topics related to solar + storage and geothermal.

The office of Sen. Hirono (HI) remains focused on energy innovation issues as they have in past years when we were collaborating with them. Hawaii continues to be a real-world laboratory around issues of the modern and future grid and remains open and interested in various partnerships. This summer the Senator reintroduced the Next Generation Electric Systems Act which would establish a grant program that brings together public and private expertise to develop and execute projects related to transforming the electric grid. This was part of the bi-partisan package energy bill that passed Senate but was not able to conference with the House.

Sen. Cantwell (WA) reintroduced a number of grid modernization bills this summer with various co-sponsors, and they moved through the committee without a hearing since they were part of the approved bill. Momentum for comprehensive energy legislation stalled with the Senate-approved package not able to conference with the House from 2015. The office remains interested in finding viable pathways ahead for the industry and thinks that floor time for the issues may be grouped with other issues. They remain open to good ideas on all fronts, from cybersecurity and resiliency to various items around innovation and modernization.

The office of Sen. Murkowski (AK) and the Energy & Natural Resources committee briefed us on the current natural resources focus of the committee and noted a number of the hearing and topics discussed in the committee including around cybersecurity and resiliency issues. They are proud of the support for the labs and would like to look for continued pathways to bridge the labs with industry.

The office of Sen. Wyden (OR) continues to work on issues around energy storage, including elements in the committee passage of the BEST act link, and topics around distributed resources and resiliency With new staffers working on energy issues they remain interested and open to various industry topics.

If you are a Grid Forward member and have questions about these discussions on Capital Hill, please contact Bryce Yonker.

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