This bill — known as the American Energy Innovation Act — would aim to modernize U.S. energy policies, strengthen national security & international competitiveness, and invest in clean energy technologies, including renewables, carbon capture & advanced nuclear power. It would also aim to improve the security & reliability of the electric grid, secure the supply chain of critical rare earth minerals, and provide for the training of a 21st century energy sector workforce. A breakdown of its various provisions can be found below.
Energy Efficiency: This section would establish grants for public schools to make energy efficiency & renewable energy improvements through the Dept. of Energy (DOE). It would provide grants to institutions of higher education that cover a portion of the cost of career skills training programs as part of an industry certification for installing energy efficient building technologies.
Additionally, it would require reports on federal agencies’ use of energy & water efficiency measures; expand existing energy standards for new federal buildings & major renovations; and revise rebate programs to encourage the replacement of inefficient motors & transformers. This section would also reauthorize the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) through FY2025.
Renewables: This section would extend incentives for hydroelectric energy production through FY2036 and reauthorize DOE research into marine & hydrokinetic renewable energy. A wind energy technology program would be established through FY2025, and a solar energy technology program that seeks to address near-term, mid-term, and long-term challenges in solar energy development would be authorized through FY2025.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) would update its geothermal resource assessment, establish a program to transfer & adapt key oil & gas technologies for geothermal development, and reauthorize existing geothermal development and R&D programs. It would also establish national goals for geothermal development, allow non-competitive leasing for geothermal production on federal lands if it’s co-produced from an existing oil or gas well, and provide for exploration on public lands under strict, environmentally protective parameters.
Energy Storage: This section would establish a research, development, and deployment (RD&D) program to advance energy storage technologies. The DOE would carry out at least five demonstration projects, as well as a competitive pilot project grant program, and establish a joint long-term demonstration initiative with the Dept. of Defense (DOD). It would also direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a regulation on energy storage cost recovery.
Carbon Capture, Utilization, & Storage: This section would establish a DOE coal & natural gas technology program to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, costs, and environmental performance of coal & natural gas use. It would include an R&D program, large-scale pilot projects, demonstration projects, and a front-end engineering and design program.
The DOE would establish a RD&D carbon storage program, a large-scale carbon sequestration demonstration program, and an integrated storage program; a RD&D program for carbon utilization to identify & assess novel uses for carbon, carbon dioxide, carbon capture technologies for industrial systems, and alternative uses for coal. Further, a program would be established to develop technologies to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere on a large scale, an air capture technology prize competition, a direct air capture test center, and a direct air capture pilot & demonstration program.
Advanced Nuclear: This section would authorize a research program to develop innovative technologies to improve the safety, functionality, and affordability of nuclear energy. A new Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program would replace the DOE’s existing Nuclear Energy Systems Support Program to achieve maximum benefit from existing nuclear generation, enable continued operation of existing nuclear power plants through technology development, and improve performance and reduce plant operating and maintenance costs.
This section would also:
Modernize advanced nuclear fuels research and carry out a research program on next-generation light water reactor & advanced reactor fuels through FY2025;
Update the DOE’s university research reactor support activities & reauthorize the university nuclear scholarship program;
Construct a fast neutron-capable research facility to test important reactor components, demonstrate safe & reliable operation, and license advanced reactor concepts;
Develop a 10-year strategic plan to support advanced nuclear R&D goals on breakthrough innovation to help advanced nuclear reactors reach the market;
Ensure the DOE provides a minimum amount of high-assay low-enriched uranium (HALEU) to U.S. advanced nuclear developers until a domestic supply is available, while also facilitating the development of HALEU-appropriate transportation equipment.
Industrial & Vehicle Technologies: This section would establish an Industrial Technology Innovation Advisory Committee and a program to provide technical assistance for implementing industrial emissions reductions and establish goals to accelerate technology development. It would also develop a national plan for smart manufacturing technology development & deployment to improve the productivity & efficiency of the domestic manufacturing sector.
It would direct the DOE to carry out a program of basic & applied research, development, engineering, demonstration, and commercial application activities for materials, technologies, and processes that can increase the efficiency of, and reduce petroleum use in, passenger & commercial vehicles. Further, it would carry out similar RD&D programs for medium- and heavy-duty commercial & transit vehicles.
Dept. of Energy: The DOE would carry out a research program in artificial intelligence and high-performance computing focused on the development of tools to solve big data challenges associated with veterans’ healthcare.
The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) would be reauthorized through FY2025.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve Drawdown timeframe would be modified.
This section would also require the DOE to:
Expedite the approval process for exports of small volumes of natural gas (less than 51.75 billion cubic feet per year) to any country consistent with the public interest.
Study the potential national security & economic benefits of building ethane & other natural gas liquids-related petrochemical infrastructure in the vicinity of the Marcellus, Utica, and Rogersville shale plays in conjunction with the DOD & Treasury Dept.
SECURITY & WORKFORCE
Mineral Security: This section would promote a secure & robust critical minerals supply chain by:
Updating Congress’s declaration of policy on mineral security & expressing the sense of Congress that critical minerals are fundamental to U.S. economic & national security;
Requiring the executive branch to designate a list of critical minerals and to update that list every three years;
Requiring USGS to conduct domestic resource assessments of critical minerals and to make that information publicly available;
Encouraging the Depts. of the Interior & Agriculture to complete federal permits efficiently, without compromising environmental reviews;
Requiring Federal Register notices to be published within 45 days of being finalized;
Directing the DOE to conduct R&D on recycling of and developing alternatives to critical minerals, and to develop analytical & forecasting tools to evaluate critical minerals markets;
Requiring the Labor Dept. and the National Science Foundation to develop curriculum & a program for institutions of higher education to build a strong critical minerals workforce; and
Reauthorizing the National Geological & Geophysical Data Preservation Program through FY2029.
Additionally, this section would require the DOE to carry out a program to develop advanced separation technologies for the extraction & recovery of rare earth elements (REEs) and minerals from coal & coal byproducts. A report would be provided to Congress evaluating those developments within one year of enactment.
Cybersecurity & Grid Modernization: This section would require the DOE, FERC, and other electricity regulators to establish incentive-based rate treatments to encourage utility investments in advanced cybersecurity technology & participation in cybersecurity threat information sharing programs. DOE would be authorized to provide financial assistance for a State Energy Security Plan that assesses the state’s current circumstances and proposes methods to strengthen its ability to secure infrastructure & minimize supply disruptions through FY2025. The DOE would carry out programs to develop advanced energy sector cybersecurity technologies, and a public-private partnership program that prioritizes utilities with fewer resources.
The DOE would carry out a program focused on grid-scale energy storage that addresses the challenges identified in its 2013 strategic plan, including systems research, power conversion technologies research, grid-scale testing and storage device analysis, and electric storage device safety & reliability. It would also carry out a program to promote the development of hybrid microgrid systems for isolated communities and microgrid systems to increase the resilience of critical infrastructure.
Workforce Development: This section would establish a 21st Century Energy Workforce Advisory Board to propose a strategy for DOE to support the development of a skilled energy workforce. The board would be required to conduct outreach to institutions serving minorities, veterans, and displaced or unemployed energy workers. The DOE would be required to conduct an annual survey and analysis of energy employment in the U.S.
A pilot program would be established in the Labor Dept. to provide competitively awarded cost-shared grants to support on-the-job training or pre-apprenticeship programs related to careers working in renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid modernization, or the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.