Senators want more than $1 billion to promote energy storage answers

Energy storage is hitting the big time – two U.S. Senators have introduced a bill that, if signed into law, would provide more than $1 billion to aid research and deployment of energy-storage systems around the country.

Senators Al Franken, of Minnesota and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico have introduced the Advancing Grid Storage Act (AGSA) (S.1851), which would provide $50 million per year of dedicated funding for energy storage systems within the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E),  a 5-year, $500 million technical assistance program and a 5-year, $500 million competitive grant program to help fund certain projects.

The $50 million expenditure would be devoted to driving down the cost of energy storage technologies so more people could afford to install them, expanding the reach of distributed energy options. The $500 million technical assistance program would focus on educating decision makers and helping them identify opportunities, assess feasibility, overcome interconnection and permitting challenges, conduct financial assessments, and perform the required engineering

Finally, the grant program is designed to help  states, tribes, utilities, and universities overcome high upfront capital costs of energy storage systems. Qualifying projects would have to improve the security of emergency response infrastructure, integrate renewable energy resources onto the grid, and make better use of existing grid assets. Grants are capped at 50% of the total project cost, up to $5 million.

In a release, Franken said he hoped the bill would increase investments and deployment of energy storage systems, which are key to a more resilient, efficient, clean, and cost-effective electrical grid.

“Investing in 21st century energy infrastructure is good for families, businesses, and communities in Minnesota and across the country,” Franken said. “My legislative proposal would modernize our energy technologies, bring more jobs to Minnesota, save money, and make energy delivery more efficient and reliable.”

By investing in modernizing our energy infrastructure we can help make our electrical grid more resilient and reliable, while helping families and businesses save money, Heinrich added.

“Energy storage complements renewable resources like wind and solar to increase full-time availability and provide backup power in case of emergencies,” Heinrich said. “This bill encourages innovation to promote clean energy storage, and will help create clean energy jobs in New Mexico and across the country.”  

Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association, said she and her organization stand ready to do whatever they can to support the senators’ efforts.

“Investing in 21st century grid infrastructure will generate significant benefits to all electricity users.” said Speakes-Backman. “Energy storage has proven to be a reliable solution for many of the challenges we face in modernizing our grid infrastructure.”

“AGSA is an important next step in modernizing the grid for even more Americans, and will ensure the U.S. continues to lead the world in the advanced energy storage industry – bringing jobs and investment to communities across the country,” she added.