Update: Senate Energy Bill with Implications for Microgrid Projects Stalls over Unrelated Issue

March 11, 2020
Sweeping energy legislation with implications for microgrid development stalled this week in the US Senate over a dispute on limiting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), an unrelated issue.

Sweeping energy legislation with implications for microgrid development stalled this week in the US Senate over a dispute on limiting hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), an unrelated issue.

It appeared the bipartisan American Energy Innovation Act was set for a quick vote after its was introduced in late February by Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The bill (S. 2657) bundled provisions from about 50 bills that were considered by the committee in the last year.

The legislation deals with a range of issues, including grid modernization, energy storage, renewable energy and energy efficiency. One section specifically deals with microgrids. Within discussion of grid modernization, the legislation directs the Department of Energy to set up a program to promote microgrid systems that use alternative power sources for isolated communities and microgrid systems to increase the resilience of critical infrastructure.

See earlier story: US Senate Debates Energy Bill that Could Affect Microgrid Development

Issues with the legislative process emerged March 9 when senators floated various amendments to the bill, including one championed by Sens. John Kennedy, R-La., and Thomas Carper, D-Del., that would phase down HFCs, a potent greenhouse gas used for cooling.

The HFC legislation is opposed by the White House and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., wanted the bill to be reviewed by the Environment and Public Works Committee, which he oversees. 

Murkowski on March 9 said she was frustrated the Senate wasn’t bring her bill to a floor vote.

“I am incredulous the Senate did not vote to invoke cloture on our substitute amendment after a year of regular process in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee,” Murkowski said. “It is beyond frustrating to have our bill, which contains priorities from more than 70 senators, held up by an unrelated dispute that was never part of our discussions in the lead-up to this floor process.”

It was unclear if the bill was stalled or dead as of March 11.

House Democrats are planning their own energy legislation.

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About the Author

Ethan Howland

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