On Wednesday, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, released the National Energy Security Act of 2009 (“NESA”). NESA, which is co-sponsored by Senator George Voinovich (R-OH), attempts to diversify and promote alternative forms of energy such as plug-in cars and trucks, biofuels, and domestic renewables and fossil fuels in order to decrease the United States’ dependence on foreign oil by 80% by 2050.

The NESA includes provisions to increase FERC’s transmission siting authority, making it the third piece of legislation proposing to do so since March. Similar to Senator Jeff Bingaman’s (D-NM) transmission siting bill (see March 13, 2009 edition of the WER) and unlike Senator Harry Reid’s (D-NV) bill (see March 6, 2009 edition of the WER), NESA does not limit FERC’s siting authority to renewable energy related projects. Below are the five major sections of NESA and highlights from each section.

Electric Power Transportation Superhighway

  • Creates a Clean Energy Superhighway that will bring low-carbon resources in isolated locations to demand centers while improving grid reliability and reducing congestion;
  • Increases FERC’s siting authority over transmission and creates state partnerships in the siting process; and
  • Implements regional planning and mandates cost allocation across the Interconnection if states cannot come to a decision.

Electric and Alternative Vehicles for the Modern Transportation System

  • Requires at least 10% of all vehicles purchased pursuant to Section 303 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 to be plug-in cars and trucks;
  • Requires the U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) to study the new infrastructure needed to encourage plug-in cars and trucks, followed by a grant and loan program for states and municipalities that build this infrastructure; and
  • Amends fuel-economy requirements to require a higher percentage of flex-fuel vehicles to be sold in the U.S., with all vehicles required to be flex-fuel by 2017.

Domestic Renewable and Fossil Energy Production

  • Extends the Production Tax Credit until 2015 and Investment Tax Credit until 2019;
  • Increases funding to Clean Renewable Energy Bonds by $400 million each year through 2018;
  • Increases tax credit for advanced energy facilities from $2.3 billion to $4 billion;
  • Extends tax credit on ethanol and biodiesel fuels until the end of 2011 as well as alternative fueling stations until the end of 2018;
  • Extends tax credit on various plug-in cars and trucks as well as the credit for heavy-duty natural gas vehicles until the end of 2018 while extending the credit for medium and heavy-duty hybrid vehicles until the end of 2014;
  • Searches new areas of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and natural gas while developing new regulations and environmental safeguards;
  • Increases loan guarantees for the Trans-Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline;
  • Opens new waters in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico for development; and
  • Allows U.S. companies to explore Cuban waters for hydrocarbon resources.

Clean Energy Technology Workforce Development

  • Requires DOE to reward grants to universities and institutions that will train a new energy technology workforce; and
  • Establishes a new college scholarship program for students in energy related fields of study.

Geopolitical Concerns Due to Oil Dependence

  • Requires DOE to study the impacts of foreign fuel subsidies and how to mitigate those impacts; and
  • Acknowledges that the government should have the resources and ability to protect and secure energy infrastructure.

As of press time, a copy of NESA had not yet been produced by the Government Printing Office.