U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Dec. 21 said that their bipartisan, bicameral Energy Act of 2020 has been included as Division Z of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (H.R.133), which, as noted on Congress’ website, was signed by President Donald Trump on Dec. 27.
The Energy Act prioritizes research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) “of next-generation technologies that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector, industry, and buildings while keeping American energy affordable and globally competitive,” according to the Dec. 21 statement on the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources’ website.
As reported on Dec. 28 by The Associated Press, regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislation “[p]rovides $600 direct payments to individuals making up to $75,000 per year; $1,200 for couples making up to $150,000 per year — with payments phased out for higher incomes — and $600 additional payments per dependent child.”
Among other things, the 5,593-page legislation noted that the amount of federal pandemic unemployment compensation is:
- For weeks of unemployment beginning after the date on which an agreement is entered into under this section and ending on or before July 31, 2020, $600
- For weeks of unemployment beginning after Dec. 26, 2020 — or, if later, the date on which such agreement is entered into — and ending on or before March 14, 2021, $300
According to a section-by-section summary of the legislation posted on the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources’ website, Section 3003 reauthorizes the U.S. Department of Energy‘s (DOE) wind energy research, development, demonstration, and commercial application (RDD&CA) program, including research on onshore, offshore, and distributed wind energy systems, advanced manufacturing, grid integration, and wind system recycling.
The summary also noted that Section 3004 reauthorizes DOE’s solar energy RDD&CA program, including research on photovoltaic, heating and cooling, and concentrating solar energy systems, as well as grid integration and photovoltaic recycling.
Section 3104 requires the secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) to set national goals for wind, solar, and geothermal energy production on federal land by Sept. 1, 2022. The secretary is to seek to permit at least 25 GW of electricity from wind, solar, and geothermal projects by 2025.
The summary further noted that Section 3201 establishes an RD&D program to advance energy storage technologies and directs the DOE secretary to carry out energy storage demonstration projects, as well as a competitive pilot project grant program. In addition, Section 3202 establishes an energy storage and microgrid grant and technical assistance program at DOE for rural electric cooperatives and public utilities to assist with designing and demonstrating energy storage and microgrid projects that use energy from renewable energy sources.
The summary also noted that Section 4002 directs the DOE secretary to conduct RDD&CA activities for carbon capture technologies, as well as authorizes and encourages support for large-scale pilot projects.
Section 8002 authorizes an RDD&CA program on modeling emerging technologies for secure and reliable design of the grid, as well as technologies to improve sensing, monitoring, and visualization of the grid. The summary also said that Section 8004 authorizes DOE RD&D activities on integrating renewable energy and electric vehicles onto the electric grid, while Section 8007 requires the DOE secretary to establish a grant program to carry out projects related to modernization of the electric grid, including for distribution system technologies.
Section 8008 requires the DOE secretary to initiate development of voluntary model pathways for modernizing the electric grid through a collaborative public-private effort that produces illustrative policy pathways for states, regions, and regulators, and facilitates the modernization of the grid and associated communications networks, the summary noted.
Among other things, the summary said that Section 8009 directs the DOE secretary, in consultation with a steering committee, to submit a report to Congress that includes an evaluation of grid performance and a description of the costs and benefits identified in grid modeling and visualization work.