WASHINGTON – Today, the Energy Act of 2020 passed as part of the Fiscal Year 2021 spending bill, marking the first major overhaul of U.S. energy policy in over a decade. The landmark energy legislation includes a number of bipartisan measures led by U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Climate Solutions Caucus, that will save energy, support jobs in the renewable energy sector, address climate change, and deliver significant cost savings to Delawareans.
“Investment in energy innovation is critical to addressing climate change and aiding in economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a significant toll on the energy sector in Delaware and around the country,” said Senator Coons. “The Energy Act of 2020 brings together dozens of bipartisan proposals that will spur innovation, accelerate development and deployment of new technologies, and ensure the United States continues to be a global energy leader. This bill is the most significant action we have taken for climate this Congress and its passage is strong evidence that there is bipartisan support for working together on climate solutions and investing in advanced energy technologies while also caring for our nation’s most vulnerable citizens.”
The energy package includes several provisions from legislation introduced by Senator Coons. Specifically, the bill:
- Reauthorizes and updates the Weatherization Assistance Program, which reduces energy costs for low-income households by providing home energy retrofits to make homes safer and more energy efficient. Thousands of low-income Delawareans, particularly children, seniors, and disabled individuals, have benefitted from the program, with many cutting their energy bills by 30 to 50 percent. Senator Coons was the lead sponsor of the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act of 2019, along with Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.). Their bill’s provision to create a competitive innovation grant program for non-profits to access the Weatherization Assistance Program is also included in the package.
- Establishes and expands programs that support the commercialization of clean energy technologies at the Department of Energy and authorizes the use of small business vouchers that spur innovation and collaboration by granting small businesses access to premier facilities at national labs. Senator Coons was the lead sponsor of the Energizing Technology Transfer Act of 2020 in the Senate along with Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.).
- Encourages the use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts and Utility Energy Savings Contracts in federal buildings, which increase energy efficiency and save taxpayer dollars through public-private partnerships. Senator Coons joined Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) in introducing the Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnerships Act of 2019.
- Supports nuclear energy research, development, and demonstration and international coordination to improve the long-term sustainability, safety, and economic viability of the current U.S. nuclear fleet. Senator Coons was the lead sponsor of the Nuclear Energy Renewal Act of 2019 along with Senator Martha McSally (R-Ariz.).
- Incentivizes the research and development of carbon capture technology for natural gas, which is the source of the majority of Delaware’s electricity, to keep energy bills low, maintain U.S. energy security, and protect the environment through near-term reductions of emissions. Senator Coons joined Senators John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in introducing the Launching Energy Advancement and Development through Innovations for Natural Gas (LEADING) Act of 2019.
The omnibus also includes tax incentives to support solar and wind energy projects, as well as a separate measure to initiate a 15-year phase-down of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a class of potent greenhouse gases commonly used in air conditioning and refrigeration. Senator Coons applauds Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and John Kennedy (R-La.) for their leadership in aligning the United States with the goals of the Kigali amendment to the Montreal Protocol, and was proud to cosponsor their American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act of 2019.