WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, cosponsored the Promoting Regional Energy Partnerships for Advancing Resilient Energy Systems Act (PREPARE Act), a bill to help states modernize U.S. energy systems to make them cleaner, more efficient, cost-effective, reliable and resilient. With an aging U.S. energy infrastructure in need of replacement and growing challenges to grid security, the PREPARE Act authorizes the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to enter into regional cooperative agreements with states to provide support and funding that will help states develop strategies and plans that address the unique energy needs of the region. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) introduced the bill.
"Our nation's electric power industry is going through substantial changes. This bill provides an opportunity for states to collaborate on regional approaches for cleaner power generation and transmission -- which are critical to reducing carbon pollution and keeping prices low for consumers," said Sen. Heinrich. "Our state has a unique role to play in coordinating and siting significant new generation and transmission infrastructure that will be essential for growing our economy. Additionally, we are well poised to capitalize on a diversified, but rapidly transforming energy sector, and we stand to benefit from this kind of regional collaboration."
"In Hawai‘i, we have seen great success in developing an energy strategy that has increased clean energy production and cut electricity bills, saving customers $1.5 billion since 2009. But we were only able to do this by working collaboratively with the Department of Energy and business and community leaders in the state," said Sen. Schatz. "Our bill empowers the Energy Department to give states and regions the tools they need to modernize their energy infrastructure and build a cleaner, more resilient system."
The PREPARE Act is modeled off of the successful Hawai‘i Clean Energy Initiative -- a federal-state-business-NGO partnership. Introduced in 2008, the partnership provided DOE assistance to the state, which helped convene cross-sectoral working groups and coordinate federal technical assistance. Since its implementation, energy from renewable sources has risen to 18% in Hawai‘i, saving an estimated 794 GWh of electricity and $1.5 billion on electricity bills since 2009. Hawai‘i now ranks 10th in the nation in clean energy jobs.
The PREPARE Act also builds upon the successful State Energy Program administered by DOE. The program provides funding and technical assistance to State Energy Offices to prepare state energy plans and implement clean energy and energy efficiency programs. Since its creation in 1996, it has delivered energy cost savings of $256 million per year, and every $1 of federal funds under the program has leveraged $10.71 in private and state funds and returned $7.22 in energy cost savings. From energy efficiency rules in Mississippi expected to save customers $2.3 billion in energy bills by 2034, to a business launch program for innovative energy enterprises in New Hampshire, to a large solar array program to help businesses cut energy costs in Tennessee, it has supported states with a diversity of clean energy programs. PREPARE would build on that with a regional approach and will offer assistance on planning that encompasses far more than just clean energy programs.
Senator Heinrich is a staunch advocate for modernizing our country's electric transmission grid. Last month, he introduced S. 2947, a bill to remove barriers to creating a cleaner, more consumer-friendly electric grid. The bill clarifies that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has the legal authority to require regional grid operators in interstate wholesale markets to allow consumers to be compensated for voluntarily reducing their electricity consumption -- a tool referred to as demand response. By providing incentives for consumers to reduce their use of power, demand response lowers overall electricity costs, improves reliability and efficiency, and reduces emissions.
A copy of the PREPARE Act is available here.
A one-page summary of the PREPARE Act is available here.