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Press Releases :: July 21, 2009

Subcommittee Advances Bills To Improve Energy R&D and Increase Efficiency

(Washington, DC) Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment approved four bills that would improve vehicle technologies for alternative fuels, further wind energy research and development, increase efficiency of gas turbines, and examine behavioral and social barriers to adoption of new energy technologies.

“The four bills we considered today address important energy technology needs and the need for more research on the human factors that determine their acceptance and success,” said Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).

The Subcommittee approved H.R. 3246, the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act of 2009.  The bill would provide for a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application in vehicle technologies at the Department of Energy (DOE) with a goal of reducing or eliminating petroleum fuel use and their associated emissions.  The bill highlights critical research needs and emphasizes needs in medium- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles.

This legislation will help ensure the vehicles of the future are built in the U.S., creating new jobs here at home,” said bill author Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI).  “To sufficiently transition our transportation sector off of foreign oil, we must develop more fuel efficient passenger vehicles and commercial trucks.  The Advanced Vehicle Technology Act will help America take a major step toward energy independence.”

The Subcommittee approved H.R. 3165, the Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2009, which would authorize a comprehensive research, development and demonstration program to advance wind energy technologies and reduce the cost of construction, generation and maintenance of wind systems.

“Wind energy is and will be an important part of the energy portfolio going forward,” said bill author Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY).  “In order to properly deploy this technology it is important that the federal government partner with industry to ensure the most efficient and effective technology is put forward.  That is why this bill will improve reliability, capacity and design of wind turbines as well as help make materials and costs more affordable.  HR 3165 will help create jobs and drive our economy in a positive direction that promotes clean energy and reduces our dependence on foreign fuels.”

The Committee approved amendments to H.R. 3165 from Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC) and Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Vice Chair Ben Ray Luján (D-NM).

“The intermittent nature of wind power can be problematic for integrating wind power into the electric grid,” said Luján.  “My amendment addresses this by adding an additional subparagraph that focuses on using computational modeling tools to improve the integration of wind energy systems into the existing electric grid.  Investing in technology that focuses on integration of renewable energy into the grid ensures power reliability and brings us closer to achieving a clean energy economy.”

Another bill introduced by Tonko, H.R. 3029, also was approved at the markup.  H.R. 3029 would establish a research, development and technology demonstration program to improve the efficiency of gas turbines used in combined cycle power generation systems.  While combined cycle systems are already more efficient that steam units or gas turbines alone, the bill aims to increase gas turbine efficiency to 65 percent.

“This investment in the research and development of natural gas turbines is just the type of public-private partnership that is needed to push forward with cutting edge technologies that will allow us to create better outcomes with energy efficiency and conservation,” said Tonko. “In addition, this program will promote U.S. technology leadership, and put the country in a position to assume a greater share of the worldwide energy market and retain specialized domestic natural gas turbine manufacturing jobs.”

The fourth bill approved by the Subcommittee, H.R. 3247, would establish a social and behavioral sciences research program at the DOE to identify and understand factors that influence both energy consumption, and acceptance and adoption of new technologies.  The research could then be used to improve the design, development, demonstration and application of energy technologies.

“Technology development and investment are only part of the solution to our energy problem,” said Baird, the bill’s author.  “The decisions each of us make every day have a significant impact on energy production and consumption.  It is important that we understand why some technologies are more readily embraced than others.  And it is important that we know how to communicate effectively about the nature of our energy challenges and know how to empower individual citizens to participate in overcoming them.”

The Subcommittee approved a Manager’s Amendment to the bill.


For more information, please see the Committee’s website.

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