Senators Say Bill Would Sustain and Enhance Department of Energy’s Office of Wind Energy, Support American Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. [12/12/19]—Today U.S. Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) said that their bipartisan wind energy research and development legislation passed out of the Senate Energy Committee. This gets their bill over a major hurdle on its way to becoming law.

Senator Smith and Collins’ legislation, the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2019, would renew and expand the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Wind Energy and award competitive grants to improve the energy efficiency, reliability and capacity of wind energy generation.

“Today’s committee action shows that both sides of the aisle recognize the importance of investing in wind energy,” said Sen. Smith. “As a national leader in wind energy, Minnesota knows that it offers large economic and environmental benefits. We’re home to the two largest wind construction companies in the country, and nearly 20 percent of our state’s electricity last year was generated from wind turbines. Senator Collins’ and my bipartisan bill makes sense because wind energy is a rural economic engine, it’s good for the environment and it’s the cheapest way to add new electricity to the electrical grid.”

“Within 50 miles of the U.S. coast, there is enough offshore wind capacity to power our country four times over. Offshore wind projects, such as Aqua Ventus at the University of Maine, have the potential to support more than 2,000 good-paying jobs in our state,” said Sen. Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would encourage and accelerate the excellent wind energy research being done on new technologies that will enable businesses to continue to develop this clean source of power, including off the coast of Maine.”

The wind energy sector supports more than 114,000 American jobs and provides more than $1 billion in revenue each year for states and local communities. Sens. Smith and Collins say that federal support for wind research and development has already delivered significant results, and their bill is part of a larger effort to accelerate innovative technologies, educate local communities, create more jobs and enhance the economy in rural areas.

The Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2019 authorizes and expands DOE’s Office of Wind Energy for five years and directs the Secretary of Energy to award competitive grants to:

  • Improve the energy efficiency, reliability & capacity of wind energy generation;
  • Improve land-based and offshore blade, generator, tower, and support designs and transformational technologies for harnessing wind energy, including airborne wind energy generators;
  • Increase recycling and reuse of wind-energy components;
  • Reduce cost of permitting, construction, operation & maintenance of wind energy systems;
  • Conduct a wind energy technology validation and market transformation program;
  • Reduce barriers to widespread adoption of wind power; and
  • Develop new wildlife impact mitigation technologies.

The bipartisan House companion bill is led by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY 20), Don Bacon (R-NE 2), Joe Kennedy (D-MA 4) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE 1).

You can access a summary of the bill here.

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