U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today identified opportunities in the Department of Energy’s $32.5 billion FY 2017 budget request to work with the agency to promote energy innovation, but cautioned Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz against provisions that would increase mandatory spending at a time of significant budgetary limitations.
“This is not the budget for the Department of Energy that I would write. I believe it only partially adheres to the balanced energy policy that most of us agree on – with significant increases for efficiency, vehicle, and renewable technologies, but a cut proposed for fossil R&D, including the important work the Department should be doing to help develop methane hydrates,” Murkowski said. “But this budget does present opportunities to find common ground relating to promoting energy innovation efforts throughout the country.”
Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, expressed her opposition to the tax hikes, fee increases, and other proposals in the President’s overall budget that would make the nation’s primary energy industries less competitive and less productive. Yet she also commended Secretary Moniz for largely keeping his Department’s budget free of unnecessary controversy, and for his continued commitment to working with members of both parties to find common ground.
Later in the hearing, Murkowski highlighted energy innovation in remote Alaska communities like Igiugig and how innovation in rural Alaska can help lower energy costs. The village received news this week that the Department of Energy awarded up to $1.54 million for the development of a marine hydrokinetic project that could help lower its current, 80-cent per kilowatt hour electricity costs.
“Alaska has 33,000 miles of coastline. Couple that with the vast river resources throughout the state, and marine hydrokinetic technologies would allow for communities to harness the power of rivers and tidewaters to produce energy and lower energy costs,” Murkowski said. “Igiugig is just one of the many examples in Alaska of innovative energy technologies that have the potential to be replicated in communities across the nation.”
Moniz called Igiugig’s advancements in innovative energy technologies a tremendous success and said that the village’s efforts to lower energy costs could assist other communities as well. This was a common theme at February’s field hearing in Bethel, Alaska where Murkowski was joined by Moniz and five of her committee colleagues. That hearing examined opportunities to reduce high energy costs in rural Alaska and the progress many communities are making in energy innovation.
Archived video and witness testimony from Thursday’s hearing is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.