At this beginning of this Congress, back in January 2015, the leaders of the House and Senate Energy Committee got together to try and put together a bipartisan energy package to address a number challenges brought on by the changing energy markets. The so-called Energy Policy Modernization Act would be the first major energy bill to pass in almost a decade. Many feel that federal policy has not kept up with reality on issues grid security, greenhouse gas emissions, booming oil production, and the dropping cost of renewables.
With that in mind, dozens of Congressional leaders set aside party loyalty and worked to pull together legislation to address these issues. Consensus was the goal, so the bill has little opposition. The flip side of that coin, however, is that the bill also fails to inspire particularly strong supporters. Key provisions include revamping standards for energy efficient buildings, taking steps to incentivize grid improvements, and investments in large-scale electricity-storage projects to boost the adoption of renewable power. The legislation would also help the oil and gas industry by speeding up approvals for liquefied natural gas exports. The government has dragged its feet on the issue, but perhaps that is unavoidable given that exports were not remotely possible until recently and U.S. policy was not developed with exports in mind.
Right now, it looks like the energy bill is on life support. Many Republican leaders feel like they might as well wait until next year to see what they can get done with President-elect Donald Trump. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the chair of the Senate Energy Committee, called that “crazy talk.” She says the new Congress will be consumed with Trump’s nominees and it will take a long time to ever get back around to the near-complete package they have now.
Anyone hoping for cheaper electricity should probably not be looking at Washington D.C.. Utility companies are going to be making market-based decisions that are heavily influenced by state regulators. This may create some opportunities for customers in markets where they are allowed to negotiate prices directly with their utility. If you are interested in learning more, contact the experts at EnergyCare.