Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation'

Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret Collins10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl Furious Republicans prepare to rebuke Trump on Syria MORE (R-Maine) is introducing a bill Wednesday to boost the reliability of wind and solar electricity, one of the first of what may be several Republican energy bills in the pipeline.

Collins’s bill looks to provide $60 million annually for five years toward developing batteries and other types of next-generation storage as a backstop for intermittent generation.

The bill comes as other Republicans, who have hailed innovation as the strategy for solving global warming, say they are working on crafting energy legislation that could serve as the party’s alternative to the progressive Green New Deal.

“I expect there’ll be a number of bills that will make up an effort to show that we do have a good alternative, actually a better alternative, to the $93 trillion Green New Deal,” Sen. John CornynJohn CornynGOP braces for impeachment brawl Overnight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Judge blocks Trump 'public charge' rule | Appeals court skeptical of Trump arguments for Medicaid work requirements | CDC offers guidance for treating vaping-related cases GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe MORE (R-Texas) told reporters last week when discussing his future proposal to deal with carbon capture. “The goal, of course, is to foster innovation in order to maintain U.S. energy independence while reducing emissions.”

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Solar and wind are a rapidly growing portion of the energy sector but still face challenges in supporting all U.S. electric needs.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE has downplayed wind power, suggesting once that it doesn't always work and that Americans would be unable to watch TV if the wind stopped blowing.

Energy experts say the U.S. will need more reliable battery storage if the country becomes more reliant on wind and solar generation.

Collins’s bill would support research and development on batteries through the Department of Energy that could store excess energy supplied to the grid and disperse it over three stages. Short-term batteries would be used to store energy for just a few hours, perhaps saving solar energy from the middle of the day to help serve increased demand once people start returning home from work. Mid-range batteries could be used to store energy for several days to help offset a cloudy day or week. The final type of battery would be used to address seasonal concerns with energy production.

Though the storage options could be used for any type of electric generation, a staff member for the senator said they view the bill as a way to boost renewables that generate electricity intermittently.

Collins’s bill will be sponsored alongside Sen. Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichSenators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games Green groups line up behind Markey ahead of looming Kennedy fight Overnight Energy: Lawmakers show irritation over withheld Interior documents | Republican offers bipartisan carbon tax bill | Scientists booted from EPA panel form new group MORE (D-N.M.), and they are still looking for additional co-sponsors.

Other Republican efforts on energy are coming together more slowly.

Cornyn’s legislation is designed to incentivize the research and development of new technology for carbon capture natural gas. Sen. Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisTillis says impeachment is 'a waste of resources' GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe The Hill's Campaign Report: Warren, Sanders overtake Biden in third-quarter fundraising MORE (R-N.C.) has discussed solar legislation, though his office said a bill would not be released immediately. Sen. Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderGOP braces for impeachment brawl McConnell tightlipped as impeachment furor grows GOP senator: 'Inappropriate' to discuss opponents, but impeachment a 'mistake' MORE (R-Tenn.) earlier this year pitched a Manhattan Project for climate change, a throwback to the World War II program that developed the first nuclear weapons.