Congress acted on a comprehensive energy bill last week as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advanced legislation which includes provisions that balance energy production and water efficiency to ensure a better understanding of the interdependence of energy and water. The legislation highlights the nexus between water resources and energy production and begins to integrate decision-making related to both resources.
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources reported the American Clean Energy Leadership Act of 2009 (ACELA) during a full committee meeting on Wednesday, June 17, 2009. ACELA is a bi-partisan, comprehensive compilation of several major energy bills, including S. 531, that the Committee has been considering during these initial months of the 111th Congress. Action on the bill now moves to the Senate floor.
The legislation highlights the nexus between water resources and energy production by providing for the following studies, research priorities, assessments, roadmap, grant and technical assistance programs.
1) Requires the National Academy of Sciences to assess water use associated with developing fuels in the transportation sector and the water consumed in different types of electricity generation.
2) Directs the Secretary of Energy to identify the best available technologies and develop other strategies to maximize water and energy use efficiencies in producing electricity.
3) Directs the Bureau of Reclamation to evaluate energy use in storing and delivering water from reclamation projects, and identify ways to reduce such use through conservation, improved operations and renewable energy integration.
4) Establishes research priorities for the Bureau of Reclamation's Brackish Groundwater Desalination Facility, including the requirement to develop renewable energy technologies that will integrate with desalination technologies.
5) Requires the Energy Information Administration to analyze the energy consumption associated with the acquisition, treatment and delivery of water for a variety of uses.
6) Directs the Secretary of Energy to develop an Energy-Water Research and Development Roadmap to define the future efforts necessary to address water-related challenges relating to sustainable energy generation and production.
7) Establishes a grant program for development of technologies that reduce the consumption of, or conserve, energy supplies and promote water conservation activities.
8) Requires the Secretary of Energy to provide technical assistance to rural water utilities relating to the development of alternative and renewable energy supplies and water conservation.
9) Directs the Secretary of Energy to study the interrelated nature of water and energy use and identify opportunities to reduce energy consumption and associated costs through the use of water conservation and water management strategies such as water reuse and the development of non-potable water sources.
The Alliance for Water Efficiency will continue to track and report on the American Clean Energy Leadership Act as it moves through the Senate.