U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski recently released a detailed blueprint called Energy 20/20: A Vision for America’s Energy Future. The report underlines the consensus areas that exist on our energy policy – that energy should be abundant, affordable, clean, diverse, and secure. More funding for research and technological breakthroughs is also given considerable weight in the blueprint because it holds the key to development of resources.
Senator Murkowski’s energy policy emphasizes diversity. The report talks about the need to use and invest in solar, nuclear, wind, geothermal, oil, natural gas, biomass, and marine power, just to name a few.
An interesting innovation in the outline is an “Advanced Energy Trust Fund.” The idea is that increased usage of American resources, like natural gas, will lead to increased revenues, and Senator Murkowski proposes that some of those funds go to an Advanced Energy Trust Fund. This fund would be administrated by the Department of Energy. It would go towards “the most promising and cost‐effective proposals in many technology‐neutral categories, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels, and advanced vehicles.”
On the demand side, the report argues that energy efficiency is crucial and that entails using energy not just less, but better. Using energy efficiently is thus the key to the blueprint; this is in the interest of all Americans.
A Vision for America’s Energy Future talks about the need to be forward-thinking in our energy policy. One area that receives attention is nuclear energy, and according to the report the United States must “advance the next generation of robust nuclear technologies.” This includes investments in small modular reactors and Generation IV type reactors.
We here at ASP are encouraged that the report discusses fusion power when talking about the nation’s energy future. Senator Murkowski’s blueprint correctly notes that the United States should continue to support both domestic and international efforts to realize the potential of fusion energy, which could provide us with a nearly limitless source of energy.
Since clean energy companies in particular often do not have the resources of other companies, the report puts forth two other ideas that could help them be successful – reverse auctions and Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs). Reverse auctions reverse the roles of buyers and sellers so that multiple sellers are competing to sell to one buyer. An MLP is a form of business structure that allows companies to raise capital like a corporation but pay taxes like a partnership. The report notes that this could be advantageous for clean energy companies and Congress should amend current law to make more of them eligible for an MLP.
A Vision for America’s Energy Future begins by looking at where there is consensus and then makes the case for increasing diversity, maintaining and updating our infrastructure, increasing investment in research and technology, and making it easier for clean energy companies to compete. With so much at stake, it is critical that our leaders continue to look for consensus on these energy issues that directly affect Americans’ wallets and futures.