Energy efficiency and hydropower legislation advanced Wednesday to the Senate floor from the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, but not before conservatives registered their concern about new federal spending.
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, was approved on a 19-3 voice vote, with Sens. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Tim Scott, R-S.C. voting against.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Ron Wyden is set on Wednesday to pass bipartisan hydropower and energy efficiency bills through the committee.
If approved, they would mark the first energy-related bills sent to the Senate floor under Wyden's chairmanship. Committee passage could set the stage for enactment of non-controversial energy legislation into law that skirts larger partisan and regional differences over fossil fuel and renewable energy policies.
Northeastern senators will use a hearing on electricity grid reliability on Thursday to question whether climate change -- or a lack of preparedness and utility maintenance -- is behind the widespread electricity outages following recent storms.
The hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee is being held as utilities say they are planning billions of dollars in transmission investments. It was requested by four senators, led by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., after power was knocked out by an early season snowstorm last Halloween that barreled through New England and left more than 2 million consumers without service.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Allison Macfarlane said the NRC can't consider a public hearing on the San Onofre nuclear plant until June, when an appeal period of an Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruling ends.