The U.S. Senate has passed a bipartisan amendment to restore wind energy research funding for fiscal year 2017 to the level provided for the current fiscal year.
Co-sponsored by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., the amendment passed 54-42 as part of Senate consideration of the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R.2028).
The Merkley-Grassley amendment restores funding for wind research to $95.4 million, the same level as in FY16. The initial draft of the FY17 Energy and Water Appropriations bill had contained a $15.4 million cut to the program – bringing it to just $80 million.
The measure allocates the additional $15.4 million to wind power research from within existing research programs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), so it does not increase overall spending, explains Grassley.
“Wind energy is popular wherever it’s given a chance,” he says. “New technology enables all kinds of renewable energy to advance. Research funding promotes the next wave of development. Wind energy deserves fair treatment among government support for different energy sources. This amendment gives wind energy the attention it deserves.”
Through the wind energy program, the DOE invests in research and development, driving innovations that reduce the costs of wind energy and increase deployment and grid integration. Wind program activities are selected to be non-duplicative with private investments, and projects are selected where the DOE can make a unique contribution, says Merkeley.
“Wind energy has tremendous potential to power our communities and create jobs throughout rural America – and smart, targeted research and development is the key to reaching that potential,” explains Merkley.
“Cutting funding for the DOE’s Wind Energy Program will ultimately deny savings to American consumers,” adds Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association. “Wind power costs two-thirds less than it did six years ago, thanks in part to results of this program. Decreasing funding for the DOE Wind Energy Program harms our country’s ability to continue advancing wind energy technology and keep more money in the pockets of millions of Americans.”