WASHINGTON, Oct. 3, 2017 - Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced three new pieces of legislation that would make renewable energy more reliable and affordable for consumers by providing federal funding to states to update the power grid and encouraging research and development of new technologies.

“America’s energy grid is in need of an upgrade. These bills will promote a more flexible electricity grid that can respond to power disruptions from natural disasters and ensure reliable, low-cost electricity for consumers now and in the future,” Wyden said. “They will lower costs for energy storage technologies that make renewable energy more reliable and cost-effective, boost funding for cutting-edge research and reward state and private sector innovations.”

American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) called the legislation a critical investment in the electricity infrastructure system.

“This proposal would accelerate the development of important emerging technologies and processes that enable a more reliable, resilient and secure power system, including energy storage, improved electricity market design, and more dynamic communication and information flows,” Todd Foley, ACORE senior vice president, policy and government affairs, said in a statement.

One of the bills introduced by Wyden, the Flexible Grid Infrastructure Act, would require the Department of Energy (DOE) to find ways to make the grid more flexible to protect the power supply from disruptions caused by natural disasters, which can wipe out power to millions of homes. The bill would also connect displaced workers to training programs that will allow them to transition to high-skill, clean energy jobs. It would also provide states and utilities with resources to upgrade the flexibility and reliability of the grid.

The Distributed Energy Demonstration Act would create competitive, cost-share grant programs for new small-scale, grid-connected projects such as rooftop solar panels, hot water heaters, electric vehicles and modernized utility pricing technologies.

The Reducing the Cost of Energy Storage Act would provide funding for DOE to research and develop ways to lower the cost of energy storage technologies, which make it possible for renewable energy to be used on a more reliable and affordable basis. Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed, both Rhode Island Democrats, cosponsored the bill.

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