Today, Congressman Tom O'Halleran (AZ-01) introduced the Expanding Access to Sustainable Energy (EASE) Act, bipartisan legislation to promote the adoption of energy storage technologies for rural electric cooperatives.
"Energy storage technology is increasingly being lauded as a solution to increasing energy efficiency, limiting carbon emissions, and saving money for consumers," said Rep. O'Halleran. "However, as our energy market continues to evolve, it is important that the needs of our rural energy providers are not overlooked. I introduced the EASE Act to assist rural electric cooperatives in developing and implementing energy storage technology."
Electric cooperatives power more than 19 million businesses, homes, schools, and farms, and serve 42 million people across America. O'Halleran's EASE Act would establish a grant program within the Department of Energy for rural electric cooperatives to identify, evaluate, and design energy storage projects. The legislation instructs the Department to provide rural electric cooperatives with technical assistance and to provide Congress with a report detailing the cost savings and environmental benefits gained from energy storage technology integration.
"The needs of rural America have been left on the backburner for far too long," continued O'Halleran. "This legislation would help close the gap between rural and urban energy markets by giving rural energy providers access to the resources necessary to begin planning for ways to integrate these innovative technologies into their electric grids as well."
Original cosponsors of the EASE Act include Representatives Markwayne Mullin (OK-02), Conor Lamb (PA-17), and Ralph Norman (SC-05). The bill has also received support from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
"Renewable energy is an important part of the all-of-the-above energy strategy our country needs and being able to store the renewable energy produced will help us to utilize more of it. Rural areas like my district need to be able to keep up with technology and have the resources necessary to invest in renewable energy storage. I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing this legislation that will help ensure rural communities are not left behind." -- Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK)
"As a strong proponent of renewable energy, I'm excited to co-sponsor the EASE Act. Many constituents in South Carolina's 5th congressional district live in rural areas, and the ability to deliver affordable energy to their homes and businesses is important. This bill will help electric co-operatives with renewable energy storage and microgrid projects to better serve their rural customers and keep up with their growing energy needs."-- Congressman Ralph Norman (R-SC)
"Energy storage and microgrids are necessary options to meet future electricity needs. The EASE Act leverages the strong partnership between America's electric cooperatives and the Department of Energy by supporting co-ops as they pursue new technologies to transform the rural energy landscape." -- Jim Matheson, CEO, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Senate companion legislation was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Jerry Moran (R-KS).