Senators Introduce Legislation to Encourage Clean Energy Usage

New Legislation Would Make It Easier for Homeowners, Businesses to Generate Clean Energy

Sens. Menendez, Sanders, and Lieberman on the Grid Access Act

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) today introduced new legislation that would help make it easier for homeowners and businesses that generate their own renewable energy to plug into the electricity grid and sell their excess electricity to utility companies. It also helps other clean energy technologies, such as Combined Heat and Power systems, interconnect with the grid. The Grid Access Act covers energy sources including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal energy, anaerobic digestion, or landfill gas and Combined Heat and Power systems, which efficiently heat and cool buildings while also generating electricity. The legislation would:

• Guarantee that homeowners and business will be able to connect their electricity-generating sources to the electric grid by establishing standards for interconnection

• Guarantee that homeowners and businesses are able to sell excess energy from renewables by establishing a national minimum for "Net Metering," the process by which utility companies purchase the electricity

• Allow businesses to better use Combined Heat and Power systems to deliver heat along with electricity to buildings

• Make fees for "backup" or "standby" power reasonable

• Allow states to undertake initiatives to further incentivize distributed generation

Menendez said: "Families and businesses want lower energy costs and a cleaner environment. This bill will clear some of the regulatory obstacles in the way of citizens who want to generate electricity from their own clean sources. It should be easy to plug into the grid, and these families and businesses should get fairly compensated for the electricity they provide to utility companies -- it's that simple. Lower energy costs and clean energy will be part of our economic recovery, and we can help advance that effort with this legislation."

Lieberman said: "The Grid Access Act is a key step towards supporting a clean energy economy. By eliminating barriers for the families and businesses that produce their own renewable power, we can begin to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, bring down our greenhouse gas emissions, and keep our air clean. At our heart, we are a nation of independent minded self sufficient entrepreneurs and this bill embraces that ideal."

Sanders said: "It is imperative that we take down the barriers that prevent families and businesses from take full advantages of cutting edge renewable energy technologies. We need to move aggressively toward energy efficiency and renewable energy so we use less fossil fuel. To do that, we need to develop and encourage the use of such sustainable energies as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and others."

Neal Elliott, Ph.D., the Associate Director for Research for the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, said: "This bill addresses some of the key issues that are still preventing the full deployment of clean and efficient distributed energy generation."

This legislation is endorsed by the US Combined Heat and power Association, the Solar Energy Industry Association and the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.