In Key Hearing, Heinrich Calls For Forward-Looking Legislation To Advance America’s Energy Industry And Workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Nov. 6, 2019) – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), the Ranking Member on the Senate Energy Subcommittee, delivered opening remarks on legislative efforts to modernize America’s electric grid, boost innovations through technology transfer programs with national laboratories, and create energy workforce development opportunities across the country. Assistant Secretary of Energy Daniel Simons testified on eleven separate bills.

VIDEO: Heinrich Calls On Energy Subcommittee, DOE To Focus On Forward-Looking Programs And Legislation

In the hearing, Senator Heinrich emphasized the Department of Energy’s (DOE) role in improving education and training programs for careers in energy-related industries, discussed the need to improve grid reliability and resilience, and reduce non-hardware, or “soft costs” of energy systems for homes and business.

Senator Heinrich introduced the bipartisan American Energy Opportunity Act (S. 2447) with U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) to provide state and local governments with voluntary tools to expedite and standardize the permitting process for distributed energy technologies, such as rooftop solar and battery storage, while ensuring high-quality and safe installations.

To view the full hearing in its entirety, please click here.

Senator Heinrich’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery are below:

Thank you, Chairman Cassidy, for holding our third legislative hearing this year in the Energy Subcommittee.

And welcome to our witness, Assistant Secretary Simmons. Thank you for being here.

We have a good body of work to show for our efforts this year in the Energy Committee.

We reported out 22 energy bills in July and another 21 bills last month. We’re moving another 11 bills through the Committee process in today’s hearing.

Our agenda today includes wide-ranging bills including measures to improve DOE’s role in innovation and technology commercialization, make the most of nuclear energy to help decarbonize the grid, promote a skilled energy workforce, advance renewable energy, keep the grid safe from cyber threats, and improve energy efficiency.

These are the types of bills we should be able to build into a consensus bipartisan Energy Package.

I am especially pleased that Senator Cortez Masto’s bill, the Renew America’s Schools Act, is on the agenda.

I’m a cosponsor of this bill, which would establish a competitive grant program, specifically targeting schools with low income populations, to make energy efficiency upgrades and install renewables so schools would pay less for energy.

Under this bill, grants could also be used to help schools transition to zero emissions vehicles and busses and install electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

The bill would also make our schools healthier with improved ventilation, daylighting, and air quality.

This is good, commonsense energy policy that will help our children and communities use energy cleanly and more efficiently.

I’m also pleased to see research and development authorization bills from Senator Sinema for solar energy and Senator Smith for wind energy on today’s agenda.

Advancing renewable technologies is a critical element of any energy innovation package this Committee might put together in the coming weeks or months.

We also have two workforce and career development bills on the list. Ensuring we have a strong energy workforce will be essential as we transition to clean energy.

That’s why I introduced S. 2393, the Clean Energy Jobs Act, with Senator Manchin and hope to see that bill on our next markup.

Finally, I’m glad to see this Committee continues to focus on programs at DOE that are at the forefront of driving innovation in our economy.

In particular, Senators Van Hollen’s and Alexander’s ARPA-E reauthorization bill ramps up funding over the next 5 years to be more in line with what we need to keep us on the cutting edge of energy technology.

I also appreciate my colleague Senator Cassidy introducing his Technology Transitions Act, which codifies DOE’s important Office of Technology Transitions.

The bill is a companion to the bipartisan Technology-Maturation legislation Senator Gardner and I introduced earlier this year.

Tech Transfer continues to be a foundation of our economic competitiveness – a foundation we cannot afford to neglect.

Working to improve the process to transfer technology from DOE’s 17 laboratories to the private sector has long been one of my top priorities.

Clearly, each of the eleven bills addresses important issues that our Committee should be promoting.

I look forward to working with the Chairman and Ranking Member to keep up the momentum as we continue processing important energy bills that can be reported in a comprehensive energy package.

I hope members on both sides of the aisle can remain focused on getting this done.

Thank you again for calling today’s hearing and I look forward to Mr. Simmons’ testimony.