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Pro Bill Analysis: Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017 (S. 1460)

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NOTE: This post is a preview of a Pro Bill Analysis from POLITICO Pro's Legislative Compass tool. This excerpt was originally published on Sept. 01, 2017.

Bipartisan energy bill placed on the Senate calendar


09/01/2017 05:35 PM EDT

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee leaders released the text of a bipartisan energy bill, S. 1460 (115), that would modernize and modify the nation’s energy infrastructure. The bill — largely similar to legislation from the previous Congress — was placed directly on the Senate Calendar to allow for expedited floor consideration.


Efficiency: The bill would seek to bolster energy efficiency in building codes (Sec. 1101), and would require the HUD Secretary to establish a budget-neutral demonstration program for energy and water conservation improvements in HUD multifamily housing (Sec. 1102). It would require the Energy Department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to coordinate existing federal programs to facilitate energy retrofitting projects in schools (Sec. 1103).

The legislation would require the Energy secretary to conduct a pilot program to award grants that would be used to purchase materials to retrofit nonprofits’ buildings with energy-efficient materials (Sec. 1104). It would lengthen the maximum potential contract period of utility energy service contracts from 10 to 25 years (Sec. 1105). The measure would clarify the use of energy and water efficiency measures in federal buildings (Sec. 1106).

The bill would also require the Energy secretary to provide grants to higher education institutions and tribal college or universities to establish building training and assessment centers (Sec. 1107), and would provide grants for career skills training programs (Sec. 1108). The measure would require the Office of Management and Budget to develop an implementation strategy for energy-efficient and energy-saving information technologies (Sec. 1109). The bill would mandate the development of a metric to assess data center energy efficiency and would also require the Energy Department and OMB to establish a data center energy practitioner program and an open-data initiative (Sec. 1110).

The measure would reauthorize the Weatherization Assistance Program, which seeks to reduce energy costs for low-income households by bolstering energy efficiency (Sec. 1111); and the State Energy Program, which provides funding and help to states to strengthen energy security and boost state-led energy initiatives (Sec. 1112). It would establish the Federal Smart Building Program to accelerate deployment of smart building technologies (Sec. 1113) and would repeal a requirement to phase out fossil fuel-generated energy consumption by 2030 for some federal buildings (Sec. 1114). It would expand federal building energy efficiency performance standards (Sec. 1115) and mandate that federal agencies cut their building energy intensity by 2.5 percent per year for the next 10 years (Sec. 1116).

The bill would require steps to identify high-performing green building certification programs and seek ways to eliminate duplicative green building programs (Sec. 1117-1119).

The legislation would require a study and report to quantify energy savings benefits of operational efficiency programs (Sec. 1120).

The measure would permit the use of federal disaster relief and emergency assistance to replace damaged products or structures (Sec. 1121). The bill would authorize the EPA to continue its WaterSense program, which seeks to promote water efficiency (Sec. 1122).

The measure would seek to increase conservation of products by establishing a rebate program to reward the replacement of inefficient electric transformers and motors (Sec. 1201, 1202), and clarify rulemaking procedures for new conservation standards for products (Sec. 1207). The bill would seek to enhance manufacturing energy efficiency through programs and initiatives (Sec. 1301), and leverage existing federal agency programs to help small and medium manufacturers (Sec. 1302).

The measure would authorize a series of programs: DOE’s vehicle technologies program for five years (Sec. 1403), a program to help reduce petroleum use in vehicles, a program on advanced vehicle manufacturing technologies and practices (Sec. 1411, 1412), and a pilot program seeking to improve total machine or system efficiency for non-road mobile equipment (Sec. 1424). The bill would reauthorize the diesel emissions reduction program through 2022 (Sec. 1432) and would encourage DOT to use a percentage utilization table to calculate regulatory credits awarded to alternative fueled vehicles (Sec. 1433). The bill would require guidelines to enhance energy efficiency underwriting criteria and valuation guidelines in loan-eligibility requirements (Sec. 1502, 1503).

Infrastructure: The bill would shore up sanctions for willful disclosure of protected critical electric infrastructure information (Sec. 2001) and would authorize DOE cybersecurity-related research, development and demonstration programs (Sec. 2002).

The measure would provide discretionary authority for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve drawdown and sales (Sec. 2101). It would also require action on applications to export natural gas to countries that do not have free-trade agreements with the U.S. (Sec. 2201).

The bill would require the creation of a program for electric grid energy storage (Sec. 2301) and a program to promote the development of hybrid micro-grid systems for isolated communities (Sec. 2303). The measure would impose performance metrics for electricity infrastructure providers (Sec. 2305) and facilitate the development of state and regional electric distribution plans (Sec. 2306). The bill would establish a grant program for the modernization of the electric grid, including how technologies affect the distribution system (Sec. 2314); and would require a study of combined heat and power systems and waste heat to power systems (Sec. 2311).

Supply: The bill would require FERC to evaluate expedited licensing for qualified project upgrades (Sec. 3002), and to issue revised regulations to create a two-year licensing process for non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects (Sec. 3003). The measure would direct FERC to conduct a study on the obstacles hindering development and compensation of pumped storage hydro projects (Sec. 3005), and would synchronize the hydroelectric licensing processes of the Bureau of Reclamation and FERC (Sec. 3007). The measure would expand and authorize FERC hydropower projects (Sec. 3008).


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