Cantwell Introduces Bills on Cybersecurity, Grid Modernization, Workforce and Smart Buildings

Cantwell’s Legislation to Inform Comprehensive Energy Bill Process

May 13, 2015

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has unveiled several bills to be considered for bipartisan, comprehensive energy legislation. Specifically, Sen. Cantwell addressed cybersecurity in the energy sector, modernizing and securing the grid, expanding the workforce and beginning the transition to cost-saving, smart buildings. The grid modernization bill will be discussed at tomorrow’s hearing on infrastructure proposals; tune in live at 10 a.m. ET to watch.

S. 1046, the Smart Building Acceleration Act

This bill 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.

This proposal was discussed on April 30; read her opening statement. Read the bill text and summary.

What others are saying about S. 1046:

“Smart buildings represent one of the largest new efficiency opportunities that have emerged in recent years,” said Neal Elliott, associate director for research at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. “Senator Cantwell’s bill positions our federal government to lead other building owners by example, while delivering tangible energy bill savings for taxpayers.”

S. 1241, the Enhanced Grid Security Act of 2015

This proposal designates the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as the lead, sector-specific agency for cybersecurity in the energy sector and creates several programs within the department to identify, enhance and test supply chain vulnerabilities and response capabilities between 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.

This proposal will be discussed at the June 4 hearing. Read the bill text and summary.

S. 1243, the Grid Modernization Act of 2015

This legislation addresses the emergence of new electric power technologies that are empowering consumers and changing the way electricity is delivered. The proposal is sponsored by Sens. Cantwell, Franken, Heinrich, Hirono and King, and it would double the federal investment in electric grid modernization activities by authorizing $200 million per year for the non-cybersecurity activities of DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The bill also authorizes a research and development program on grid-scale storage, creates two new demonstration programs on advanced distribution systems and microgrids, proposes the concept of a “resilience” standard and requires the Department of Energy to develop new tools for state regulators and regional planners.

This proposal will be discussed at tomorrow’s 10 a.m. hearing. Read the bill text and summary.

What others are saying about S. 1243:

“The GridWise Alliance commends Senator Cantwell on this legislation. This bill uses a comprehensive approach that would help modernize our outdated electric system infrastructure, and thereby enhance our grid resilience, reliability and security.  The bill does so by establishing a clear national vision of what a modern electric grid should achieve and how to do so, providing technical and financial assistance to states, and creating demonstration projects to test innovative and advanced grid technologies,” stated Ladeene Freimuth, policy director of The GridWise Alliance.

"I'd like to applaud Senator Cantwell for her unwavering leadership on grid modernization. The need to upgrade and strengthen our Nation's electric infrastructure has never been more imperative. S. 1243 would be an important step towards securing a more intelligent, resilient and active grid to enable better management of our nation's resources," said Philip Mezey, Itron president and CEO.

S. 1304, the 21st Century Energy Workforce Act

This proposal establishes a National Center for Excellence for the 21st Century Workforce, a nationwide advisory board for the development of a skilled energy workforce, which would develop job training programs and standards for educational curricula and for career placement in both traditional and clean energy sectors. The legislation would also create a competitive grant program to provide job training in the energy industry, in order to help students obtain industry-recognized credentials.

This proposal will be discussed at the May 19 hearing. Read the bill text and summary.

What others are saying about S. 1304:

“Over the next decade, more than half of today’s skilled utility workforce is expected to turn over, and more than one-third of the workforce may need to be replaced over the next five years,” said Edison Electric Institute President Tom Kuhn. “Through the Center for Energy Workforce Development, EEI is leading efforts to bring together electric and natural gas utilities and their associations, organized labor, educators and other stakeholders to help identify career pathways and workforce development solutions to help fill this gap. We thank Senator Cantwell for taking a holistic and comprehensive approach to energy workforce development that takes into account opportunities for career coaching and support for state consortia that will enhance efforts to encourage a diverse group of students to pursue careers in the energy sector.”

“The 21st Century Energy Workforce Act is a major step forward in helping our nation meet the skilled worker shortage looming over the energy industry,” said Edwin D. Hill, president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. “By giving apprenticeship programs the same standing as community colleges and other educational institutions when it comes to qualifying for federal job-training grants, Congress is finally recognizing what energy industry leaders have known for years: that our graduates are the best-trained and most qualified workers in the entire industry.”

To stay up-to-date on Sen. Cantwell’s proposals for the energy bill, bookmark this page and check back regularly.