Alexander: Bipartisan Energy Legislation Would Help “Fuel Innovation in our Free Enterprise System”

Says energy bill would help make energy more affordable, increase investment in energy infrastructure, keep good-paying jobs from going overseas, and unleash our brainpower advantage to make U.S. more competitive

Posted on January 27, 2016

WASHINGTON, Jan. 27, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today a broad, bipartisan energy bill being considered by the Senate would help “fuel innovation in our free enterprise system” to help lower energy costs and provide an abundance of clean, cheap, reliable energy.

The bill, the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, includes several provisions supported by Sen. Alexander and passed the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee in July 2015, by a vote of 18 to 4. If signed into law, the legislation would be the first broad energy legislation in eight years.

“I commend Chairman Murkowski’s leadership in crafting this bipartisan energy bill that will help the United States maintain its brainpower advantage and create an abundance of clean, cheap, reliable energy to fuel innovation in our free enterprise system,” Alexander said. “This bill reauthorizes energy programs in the America COMPETES Act and puts us on a path to double basic energy research. It also authorizes the Department of Energy to move forward with plans to build the world’s fastest supercomputers.”

The bill includes provisions from two Alexander-sponsored bills – the Energy Title of America COMPETES Reauthorization Act and the ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act. The legislation also includes language from the Vehicle Innovation Act, which Alexander cosponsored.

Alexander said language from the Energy Title of America COMPETES Reauthorization Act will help grow jobs and boost the Department of Energy’s ability to find new ways to make clean, cheap, reliable energy.

“It’s hard to think of an important technological advance since World War II that has not involved at least some government-sponsored research. Putting the U.S. on a path to double funding for basic energy research is one of the best ways to keep good-paying jobs from going overseas,” Alexander said.

The ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act authorizes funding for public-private research partnerships between industry, universities and the Department of Energy’s national laboratories to research and design at least two different types of exascale supercomputers capable of a billion billion calculations per second, which is a thousand-fold increase over the supercomputers in use today. Alexander called exascale supercomputing “essential to U.S. national security, and competitiveness in science and technology,” saying the new research effort would also help create high-wage jobs.

The bipartisan energy bill also reauthorizes the Vehicle Technologies Office at the Department of Energy, which supports the development of cutting-edge technologies in the American auto industry. Automotive innovation is very important to Tennessee’s auto industry and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Such innovation helped create new jobs related to carbon fiber and composites manufacturing in Tennessee.

The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016, which the Senate began debating today, includes the following provisions supported by Sen. Alexander:

Energy Title of America COMPETES Reauthorization Act

  • Authorizes a 4 percent increase in funding each year for basic energy research and reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and ARPA-E, an agency that supports research in energy technology, for five years. The legislation would put the Department of Energy on a path toward doubling the roughly $5 billion it spends on basic energy research.
  • Eliminates six Department of Energy programs that were never fully implemented and reforms five other department programs.
  • Attracts and keeps the country’s most talented scientists in the lab through competitive grant programs.

ExaSCALE Computing Leadership Act of 2015

  • Authorizes funding for research partnerships between industry, universities and national laboratories to design at least two different types of exascale supercomputers capable of a billion billion calculations per second, which is a thousand-fold increase over the supercomputers in use today.

The Vehicle Innovation Act

  • Reauthorizes the Vehicle Technologies Office at the Department of Energy, which supports research and development to make vehicles more efficient.

The Utility Energy Service Contracts Improvement Act

  • Allows federal agencies to enter into long-term contracts with utilities to improve energy efficiency, which some day could include small modular reactors.

The Quadrennial Energy Review Act

  • Requires the president to conduct a review of domestic energy capabilities and needs and establish a government-wide federal energy policy plan to submit to Congress.

The Smart Manufacturing Leadership Act

  • Leverages existing Department of Energy programs and the smart manufacturing infrastructure at national laboratories, including high-performance computing, to assist small and medium manufacturers.

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