Congress

Although Congressional activity has been curtailed this month with members largely at home campaigning ahead of the November 6 midterm elections, there has been some activity on energy policy.

The Senate approved by voice vote S. Res. 672 expressing the sentiment of Congress that electric cooperative energy programs reduce energy consumption and save participants money. Also approved by voice vote was S. Res. 668, designating October 5, 2018 as Energy Efficiency Day, and by unanimous consent S. Res. 664 designating October 8 as National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Day, with the House also approving a similar resolution.

We are currently watching for a potential tax extenders package post-election that could address several energy-related provisions, although the outcome of the election may determine whether or not an extenders package moves. The most recent tax extenders package was included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 earlier this year, which for the most part retroactively extended a number of provisions for the 2017 tax year. No tax extenders bill exists as of this writing, but House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said recently that an extenders package could emerge during the lame duck.

Executive Branch

President Trump declared October as National Energy Awareness Month, saying in a statement that his administration is “reducing regulatory burdens on the energy sector, developing innovative energy technologies, and building new energy-related infrastructure.”

The President also announced a number of nominations, including that of Rita Baranwal to be Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy) at the Department of Energy (DOE), and of Bernard McNamee to be a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

On October 29, the DOE announced the upcoming publication of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) introducing administrative procedures to implement DOE’s designation authority for Critical Electric Infrastructure Information (CEII). The Federal Register notice initiates a 60-day public comment period that ends on December 28, 2018.

On October 23, the DOE announced selections for up to $53 million in new projects to advance early-stage solar technologies. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will fund 53 innovative research projects aimed at lowering solar electricity costs and supporting a growing solar workforce.

On October 9, the DOE announced the selection of seven projects totaling nearly $11.4 million to advance geothermal energy development focusing on accelerating the research and development of innovative geothermal technologies. Recipients include projects at Argonne National Laboratory, General Electric Company, Oklahoma State University, Sandia National Laboratories, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station, and the University of Oklahoma.