WASHINGTON, D.C. - During a U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) discussed measures he has sponsored to boost tech transfer, create an energy workforce development program, and establish a national energy storage standard. These bills include S.784, the Microlab Technology Commercialization Act; S.1259, the National Laboratory Technology Maturation Act; S.1434, the Energy Storage Promotion and Deployment Act; and S.1422, the Energy Workforce for the 21st Century Act of 2015. Senator Heinrich is championing these measures to be included in comprehensive bipartisan energy legislation.
In his opening statement, Senator Heinrich also highlighted S.1407, the Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act, a bipartisan bill he is cosponsoring to simplify the permitting process for solar, geothermal, and wind projects on public lands. Additionally, Senator Heinrich said that he would work with the committee to ensure that strong provisions to promote energy storage be included in bipartisan energy reform legislation.
Senator Heinrich emphasized that his legislation, S.1422, the Energy Workforce for the 21st Century Act, directs the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to bring together a comprehensive strategy to improve education and training for energy workers, and increase participation by women and minorities throughout the energy sector. In addition to baseline growth in employment, nearly half of skilled technicians, utility line-workers and engineers in the energy industry may retire and need to be replaced in the next 10 years due to an aging workforce. According to a study prepared for the American Petroleum Institute, the number of Hispanic workers in the oil and gas and petrochemical industries is projected to increase by 112,000, from 160,000 to 272,000 by 2030. And female employment is projected to increase by 23,000, from 156,000 to 179,000 workers by 2030.
In a written testimony, President and CEO of Institute for 21st Century Energy Karen Harbert, a U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate, wrote that the Energy Workforce for the 21st Century Act, "creates a strategic and methodic approach to increase the number of skilled workers trained to work in the energy and manufacturing sector, and taken together with COMPETES Reauthorization, this represents a good next step in workforce development."
During the hearing, Senator Heinrich discussed with hearing witness Bipartisan Policy Center Board Member Norman Augustine the need to make it easier for small businesses to engage with national laboratories to commercialize innovative technology.
In his written testimony, Mr. Augustine wrote that the bills Senator Heinrich introduced, the Microlab Technology Commercialization Act and National Laboratory Technology Maturation Act, would "...address the issue for smaller companies that may lack the resources to engage with the Labs."
S.784, the Microlab Technology Commercialization Act, and S.1259, the National Laboratory Technology Maturation Act would accelerate technology transfer by establishing off-campus microlabs that would serve as the "front-door" to national laboratories and launch a new National Laboratory Technology Maturation Program at DOE to facilitate successful commercialization of laboratory-developed technologies.
Additionally, the committee considered the following bills, which Senator Heinrich is cosponsoring:
- S.1033, the Quadrennial Energy Review Act of 2015, a bill to amend the Department of Energy Organization Act to replace the current requirement for a biennial energy policy plan with a Quadrennial Energy Review, and for other purposes.
- S.1068, a bill to amend the Federal Power Act to protect the bulk-power system from cyber security threats.
- S.1398, a bill to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act.
- S.1428, the Excess Uranium Transparency and Accountability Act.
A list of witnesses, testimony, and the archived webcast of today's hearing is available here.