Democratic News

Since last September, Senate Energy Committee has been systematically assembling a comprehensive, balanced, bipartisan energy bill. Committee Members started marking up this bill 12 weeks ago. Now, it’s almost done.
 
The Committee expects to report the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (ACELA) tomorrow.  When it does, that legislation will represent a significant bipartisan achievement, and it will be the foundation for advancing key energy legislation through the full Senate.
 
ACELA is based on six major bills -- all with bipartisan sponsorship -- and five other bills with either Republican or Democratic sponsorship that were introduced in this Congress.  Key provisions were developed through 39 bipartisan staff briefings, 20 formal hearings and 11 open business meetings. During the process of writing this bill, dozens of amendments so far have been considered and adopted, most on a bipartisan basis and many unanimously.
 
Many of you have followed progress on this bill via the Committee’s website.  Others have kept up through the trade press and Hill publications.  Some reporters who have not kept up at all will have to cram to learn as much as possible, as fast as possible.  To save study time, here are the CliffsNotes of what this bill will include:
 
Highlights
 
u       Accelerate the introduction of new clean energy technologies in the United States, creating new jobs and helping businesses grow through clean energy project financing, a renewable electricity standard, and a robust and secure national electricity transmission highway;
 
u       Increase energy efficiency in buildings, major equipment, and appliances, saving consumers and businesses billions of dollars on their energy bills;
 
u       Enhance America’s energy independence by increasing clean energy supplies and energy security, including new access to over 20 trillion cubic feet of clean natural gas resources;
 
u       Strengthen America as the world leader in energy innovation, by doubling our national investment in energy research and technology;
 
u       Build a new energy workforce for the future;
 
u       Protect consumers by making energy markets more transparent and fair, and by providing new tools to fight market manipulation; and
 
u       Tackle future energy and climate challenges with smarter, more integrated planning.
 
Key Provisions
 
Sets up a new Clean Energy Deployment Administration (CEDA) to facilitate tens of billions of dollars in new financing to get breakthrough clean energy technologies introduced into U.S. markets and expanded as quickly as possible.
 
Requires electric utilities nationwide to meet 15% of their electricity sales through renewable sources of energy (e.g., the sun, the wind, biomass, geothermal energy, hydropower) and energy efficiency by 2021.
 
Establishes an “interstate highway system” for electricity by creating a new bottoms-up planning system for a national transmission grid -- based on regional, state, and local planning and input; allowing states to take the initial lead in deciding where to build high-priority national transmission projects; ensuring that if an impasse develops over high-priority projects that have been identified in the consensus planning process, that they can proceed with Federal authority as a backstop; and making sure that the costs of “interstate highway system” transmission projects are shared fairly.
 
Revitalizes America’s manufacturing industries by boosting their use of clean energy and energy efficiency, so that they remain competitive – and we prevent American jobs from being lost overseas –  as energy costs rise in the future.
 
Improves efficiency in buildings, homes, equipment, appliances and the Federal government, to cut costs to consumers and stop energy waste.
 
Ensures that the U.S. electrical grid is protected from cyber vulnerabilities, threats, and attacks, by giving the Secretary of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the authority and responsibility to respond quickly to threats and attacks that might emerge.
 
Allows for the creation of a 30-million barrel petroleum product reserve, so that U.S. supplies of gasoline and diesel fuel will not face sudden shortfalls and price spikes due to the shutdown of refineries by hurricanes and other natural disasters, as occurred in 2008.
 
Opens the Eastern Gulf of Mexico to leasing and exploration for oil and gas, making over 3.8 billion barrels of new oil resources and 21.5 trillion cubic feet of new natural gas resources available.
 
Lays out a four-year integrated plan to double the U.S. investment in energy innovation and technology, to a total of almost $6.6 billion, with a complementary set of programs to enhance energy jobs training and workforce development. 
 
Facilitates the large-scale demonstration and early deployment of carbon dioxide capture and storage technologies, by providing a legal and regulatory framework for the first 10 “early-mover” projects.
 
Protects U.S. energy consumers and businesses from unstable or rigged energy markets by increasing the transparency of what is happening to energy supplies in the United States and around the world, and by giving U.S. energy regulators the same strong enforcement authorities against market tampering and manipulation that are now available in financial markets.
 
Reforms the Federal energy planning process by requiring a new comprehensive energy plan one year into each new Presidential term, and by providing a baseline of specific studies of resources and international climate and energy policies.
 
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