Full Committee Markup -- H.R. 2774
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
With concerns about global climate change, high gas and electricity prices, and our growing reliance on unstable energy-supplying nations, energy has come to the forefront of our constituents’ awareness and has been placed at the top of the Congressional “To-Do” list.
Here on the Science and Technology Committee we have responded with an aggressive energy agenda.
With the addition of the four bills we are marking up today, this Committee will contribute an even dozen pieces of legislation that make a vital contribution to the national strategy to put the U.S., and the world, on track to a more sustainable future.
First we will consider H.R. 906. Mr. Udall and Mr. Inglis, the Ranking Member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and co-sponsor of the bill, have worked together to produce this legislation.
H.R. 906 re-orients the U.S. Global Change Research Program to produce more policy-relevant climate information for regional, State, and local governments and other user groups.
We will then take up H.R. 1933 by Rep. Udall, which sets out the next steps in DOE’s carbon mitigation strategies. In addition to ongoing research in carbon management, the bill authorizes DOE to conduct demonstrations of large-scale carbon capture and storage technologies through partnerships with industrial, academic and government entities.
Because we will continue to use our abundant resources of coal to meet our energy needs for the foreseeable future, it is critical that we demonstrate an integrated system of capture, transportation, and storage of carbon dioxide at a scale that encourages industry to start making technology choices.
Next, the Committee will take up a bill by the Chairman of the Energy & Environment Subcommittee, Rep. Nick Lampson. H.R. 2773, the Biofuels Research and Development Enhancement Act, will better coordinate and compile information from federal biofuels research programs and focus biofuels research on infrastructure needs and efficiency of biorefinery technologies.
H.R. 2773 also provides for the in-depth study of several challenges facing broader use of biofuels and increases the funding levels for biofuels research.
Finally, we will consider H.R. 2774, the Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007, introduced by Congresswoman Giffords. This bill creates an R&D program on energy storage technology for concentrating solar power plants, which allows for the use of solar energy even when the sun isn’t shining.
It also asks DOE to conduct studies on how to best integrate concentrating solar plants with the grid, and ways to reduce water usage in these plants. In addition, it creates a workforce training program for solar installation and maintenance, which is critical to making solar power a real energy option across the country.
For each of these bills the Energy and Environment Subcommittee held legislative hearings and markups where we heard valuable witness testimony and facilitated good Member discussions on the barriers and possible pathways for these programs.
And, as you all may know, we are not alone in this effort today. The Energy and Commerce Committee is also marking up a series of energy bills and I, along with Ranking Member Hall and a few others, may have to excuse myself for votes in that Committee.
In conclusion, I urge my colleagues to support these four bills. I know the Committee’s pace has been very aggressive and that has been difficult at times for all of us. However, I believe the products that have resulted from this process demonstrate the value of this Committee and its work and it reflects well on the entire membership.
I want to thank all the Members for their cooperation and participation.
Opening Statement By Rep. Gabrielle Giffords
I want to thank Chairman Gordon and Ranking Member Hall for considering HR 2774, the Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act in the Full Committee this morning.
Last week, we had the opportunity to hear from a very distinguished panel of witnesses, including the Director of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the President of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), and the Solar Technology Coordinator for Arizona Public Service (APS), which is the second fastest growing electric utility in the U.S. over the last five years.
Many members of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee attended the hearing, and we had a very informative and engaging dialogue on the discussion draft for this legislation.
The bill before us today contains three main components, two of which will move research and development forward on concentrating solar power (CSP).
The first would establish a “Thermal Energy Storage Research and Development Program” within the Department of Energy. This will help us solve perhaps the most significant problem with concentrating solar power technology: energy storage. We need more advanced technology so that we can store solar energy when the sun shines and use it at night or on a cloudy day. This is all critical for energy reliability and viability.
The second component would require DOE to conduct two “Concentrating Solar Power Commercial Application Studies”. One would study methods to integrate concentrating solar power energy into regional electricity transmission systems. We need to research how to connect major solar power plants to the electric grid, relieve expensive demand on electric utilities, and use solar energy during these peak hours. We also need to figure out how to bring this abundant resource from the Southwest to the entire country.
The other report would require DOE to examine methods to reduce the amount of water consumed by concentrating solar power systems. Given the strain on water resources in the Southwest, we must study this subject so we can realize the full benefits of CSP technology.
The bill’s third component establishes a competitive grant program to create and strengthen solar industry training and internship programs across the country. This will ensure that workers obtain the necessary skills to install, operate, and maintain solar energy products.
The need for this program is clear.
The solar energy industry is growing at a very fast pace, and we need to ensure that we have a skilled workforce to sustain this growth.
A strong solar industry will stimulate business development, create new jobs, help protect our environment, and promote energy independence.
In addition to what I’ve introduced here, I also look forward to supporting several amendments from both sides of the aisle that make a good bill better.
As I said last week, solar energy is a non-partisan issue, and I know that we can all benefit from harnessing the power of the sun.
I look forward to Members’ support for HR 2774, and I will continue to work with you as we move to the House floor next month.