The Senate late yesterday passed U.S. Representative Judy Biggert's (R-IL-13th) legislation to help move energy and efficiency technologies out of the laboratory and into the marketplace.
"The Department of Energy (DOE) and national labs such as Argonne have developed energy technologies that hold great promise for reducing our reliance on foreign sources of energy," said Biggert, who serves on the House Science and Technology Committee. "The federal government spends billions of dollars on energy-related research and development (R&D). This bill represents just a small investment in the tech transfer capabilities we need to ensure that Americans enjoy the tangible benefits of our federal investment in R&D."
The Energy Technology Transfer Act, H.R. 85, directs the DOE to create a network of centers throughout the United States to transfer energy efficiency technologies to energy end-users. Instead of creating from scratch this network of centers, H.R. 85 authorizes DOE to provide grants to and partner with existing community outreach networks. These existing networks include Cooperative Extension System offices, state energy offices, local governments, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations with expertise in energy technologies and outreach.
"The Energy Resources Center strongly supports this legislation," said Dr. William Worek, Director of the Energy Resources Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "At a time of rising energy prices and uncertain supplies, it is important to ensure that our nation's businesses, industries, institutions, and individuals have access to the latest technologies available to them to save energy and adopt cost effective renewable technologies. These tech centers will provide a source of objective information about the latest technologies available."
"The Cooperative Extension Service and similar community outreach networks have a long and successful history of transferring knowledge about new technologies and techniques to farmers and other constituencies," said Biggert. "However, few have the resources to focus on energy technologies outside of the agriculture sector. H.R. 85 would change that, and build on the successful model of the Agriculture Extension Service without creating any new entity or bureaucracy."
In addition, the Energy Technology Transfer Act:
Expands the mission of the outreach networks to include all advanced energy technologies, such as biofuels, solar, wind, clean coal, hydrogen and other technologies.
Requires grantees to provide feedback to the DOE on research needs related to production, storage, and use of energy.
Requires grant recipients to demonstrate results or risk losing their grant. It also encourages recipients to work with utilities to carry out informational activities for energy end-users.
Prohibits grant recipients from using grant funding to construct facilities to house the tech transfer center.
H.R. 85, which passed the House last March, was incorporated into S. 2739, a bipartisan collection of 62 non-controversial bills relating to various energy, national park, public land, territorial and water issues. S. 2739 passed the Senate yesterday by an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 91 to 4. It has now been sent to the House, where it awaits further consideration.