Sens. Coons, Graham, Reps. Luján, Wilson introduce bipartisan, bicameral bill to help drive investment in new energy technologies


Issues: Energy

U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), along with U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), today introduced bipartisan, bicameral legislation to establish a nonprofit foundation for the U.S. Department of Energy that would channel private-sector investments and accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies in energy.

Research and development (R&D) drives innovation and accounts for nearly 7% of the United States real GDP growth. However, recent declines in research funding have jeopardized U.S. economic competitiveness. For example, from 2008 to 2013, venture capital funding in energy startups fell by 60% and resulted in a steep decline in the development of these important startup companies. Unlike other sectors, the energy sector has several unique challenges to innovation including requiring high capital needs, long development times, the need to overcome incumbent technologies, and operating within a shifting regulatory environment. Addressing these challenges requires partnerships with government, industry, startups, and outside funding organizations.

This bill establishes a nonprofit foundation to engage with the private sector to raise funds that support the creation, development, and commercialization of innovative technologies that address tomorrow's energy challenges.

"The IMPACT for Energy Act would bolster efforts to support private-sector investment, accelerate commercialization by facilitating public-private partnerships and prize competitions, and would serve as an agent in convening industry leaders and other stakeholders to collaborate, share ideas, and solve some of your most complex and challenging problems," said Senator Coons. "I am proud to introduce this bill with Senator Graham and my co-authors in the House that helps drive innovation in the energy sector and helps bring the next generation of energy technologies."

"Investing in research and development -- particularly as it pertains to energy -- is a no-brainer. The IMPACT for Energy Act would allow the Department of Energy to partner with the private sector, creating a unique opportunity for innovation. I was proud to work with my long-time friend and colleague Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina, along with Senator Coons, and Congressman Luján, on this important legislation," said Senator Graham. "Our bill will help foster new ideas and partnerships to keep America on the cutting edge of economic and technological developments."

"The non-profit foundation created by this legislation will help organize and connect diverse partners from government, industry and the venture capital to spur innovative technologies to address our country's energy challenges, including the need to invest in renewable energy sources as we propose bold solutions to the climate crisis," said U.S. House Assistant Speaker Ben Ray Luján. "Similar foundations at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have all demonstrated success in funding cutting-edge research and innovation, and I'm confident a Department of Energy foundation will help us tackle the energy challenges of both today and tomorrow."

"Private-public partnerships are critical for innovation and development of new technologies to address the needs of America's energy industry," said Rep. Wilson. "I am grateful to partner with Congressman Ben Ray Luján and Senators Chris Coons and Lindsey Graham to support The IMPACT for Energy Act to create an avenue for private investment and federal assistance for energy expansion."

The Increasing and Mobilizing Partnerships to Achieve Commercialization of Technologies (IMPACT) for Energy Act would:

Support private-sector investment. Provides a mechanism to channel private-sector investment into commercializing energy technology.
Accelerate commercialization. Facilitates public-private partnerships and encourages new ideas such as increased regional economic development and prize competitions.
Convene industry leaders. Supports events, briefings, and symposia to create a forum for stakeholders to share ideas and collaborate on complex energy problems.
The House version of the bill is also cosponsored by Representatives Lipinksi (D-IL), Reed (R-NY), Swalwell (D-CA), Fortenberry (R-NE), Tonko (D-NY), Fleischmann (R-TN), McNerney (D-CA), Bilirakis (R-FL), Casten (D-IL), McKinley (R-WV), Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and Fitzpatrick (R-PA).