July 30, 2015

Hirono Priorities Included In Broad, Bipartisan Energy & Conservation Legislation

Bill Includes Hirono Proposal To Modernize Electrical Grids

Today, many of Senator Mazie K. Hirono’s priorities were included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on a 18-4 vote, with Senator Hirono’s support. The broad, bipartisan legislation includes Senator Hirono’s proposals to provide grants to modernize electrical grids and put U.S. territories and the District of Columbia on equal footing to access Department of Energy loan guarantees.

“As Hawaii moves toward achieving a goal of 100 percent renewable energy, this bipartisan legislation supports research and development of a clean energy economy and protects our environment,” said Senator Hirono. “My proposals to make our nation’s electric grid systems more resilient and extend loan guarantee programs for projects that reduce carbon and air pollutant emissions to U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia will bolster energy reliability and security in Hawaii and across the country.”

Many provisions from Senator Hirono’s Next Generation Electric Systems Act are included in the Energy Policy Modernization Act to establish a Department of Energy program to improve the performance and efficiency of electric grid systems. The program could assist Hawaii’s effort to make greater use of renewable energy, energy storage systems, electric vehicles, and other innovative energy technologies. Grid modernization in Hawaii and across the country will make our electrical systems cleaner, more affordable for middle class families and small businesses, and more reliable. Hawaii is leading the charge on finding new ways to bring more affordable and reliable electricity to our lives from increasingly clean sources.

The comprehensive bill also includes Senator Hirono’s amendment to ensure that the U.S. Territories and the District of Columbia can join Hawaii and other states in participating in the Department of Energy’s 1703 loan guarantee program, which supports new investments in clean energy projects.

The legislation also takes action to protect public lands by creating a National Park Service Maintenance and Revitalization Fund and permanently reauthorizing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is set to expire this fall. Over the past 50 years Hawaii has received nearly $200 million in LWCF support to preserve various ecosystems throughout Hawaii. Land acquisitions included in Hawaii’s FY 2016 Collaborative Landscape Proposal “Island Forests at Risk” that are slated to receive LWCF funding would expand Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Hakalau National Wildlife Refuge.

In addition, the Energy Policy Modernization Act funds research and deployment of energy battery storage, strengthens power utility security, and promotes research into renewable energy, such as marine and hydroelectricity. The Energy Policy Modernization Act now awaits consideration by the full Senate.