U.S. Senate Passes Energy Policy Modernization Act-Thoughts from SEIA

4.20.16

Today the Senate passed S. 2012, The Energy Policy Modernization Act, by a vote of 85 to 12. This legislation is the culmination of more than a year of bipartisan efforts by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski [R-AK] and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell [D-WA]. It is also the first comprehensive energy policy bill to pass the Senate since 2007. You can trace the legislation’s history and see a full summary of the bill at the Committee’s website.

In spite of a challenging congressional environment for solar, this Senate bill contains several notable wins for the solar industry:

  • Inclusion of solar heating and cooling as technologies that can meet the federal government’s renewable portfolio standard
  • Language directing the DOE to identify what costs and benefits should be considered for the proper valuation of DG solar
  • Provisions to improve permitting of solar power plants sited on federal lands
  • Language directing DOE to study avian populations to establish baseline scientific information
  • Inclusion of the SAVE Act, which incorporates the savings from energy efficiency upgrades into residential mortgage underwriting

SEIA worked closely with the congressional sponsors of the first four amendments listed above to draft the legislative language, and urged Senators to approve all five amendments. SEIA also successfully blocked the adoption of any anti-solar changes to PURPA, state net metering programs, or the ability to build interstate transmission lines.

Procedurally, the next step is for the House and Senate to name Members of a conference committee, which is charged with reconciling the differences between the House-passed energy bill (H.R. 8) and the bill the Senate passed today. This process may take several weeks or longer. SEIA will continue to urge the conference committee to adopt pro-solar policies and reject provisions harmful to our industry.

If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 556-2878 or cmansour@seia.org.

Sincerely,

Christopher Mansour
Vice President, Federal Affairs
SEIA