On Earth Day, Luján reintroduces bipartisan bill to drive investment in energy security and innovation

Bipartisan bill establishes a nonprofit foundation to facilitate stronger partnerships between the Department of Energy and the private sector

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), along with Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), introduced the Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act, bipartisan legislation to establish a nonprofit foundation for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) that would channel private-sector investments to support DOE’s mission and to accelerate the commercialization of innovative technologies in energy, like next-generation batteries, low-carbon fuels, and advanced materials. Last Congress, the senators proposed the foundation in the bipartisan and bicameral IMPACT for Energy Act, which passed the House of Representatives as part of the Clean Economy Jobs and Innovation Act

“The Department of Energy has an important role to play in America’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act helps the DOE fulfill this role by adopting a proven model to support the research, development, and commercial application of technologies that address our nation’s energy challenges,” said Senator Luján. “I’m proud to join Senator Coons and Senator Graham to reintroduce legislation I championed in the House that promotes innovation, supports American companies, and creates good-paying jobs.”

Research and development drives innovation and GDP growth in the United States. However, declining global shares of research expenditures severely jeopardize U.S. economic competitiveness. Unlike other sectors, the energy sector faces several unique challenges to innovation including high capital needs, long development time, and a shifting regulatory environment. The Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act addresses these challenges by fostering partnerships between government, industry, startups, and outside funding organizations through a Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation.

Creation of a DOE foundation was the lead recommendation of two independent reports:

  • National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA). Completed in response to the Fiscal Year 2020 funding appropriations bill, a report released by NAPA in January 2021 concludes that a DOE foundation would provide a complementary and supplementary role to the DOE, National Labs, and the lab-associated foundations.
  • Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). A report released by ITIF in May 2020 concludes that a DOE foundation would foster public-private collaboration, connecting innovators with partners, funding, and tools to bring clean energy technologies to market.

The Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act is endorsed by the American Sustainable Business Council, Association of University Research Parks, BPC Action, CalCharge, Confluence Philanthropy, FedTech, National Association of State Energy Officials, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, JLW Advising, and Social Venture Circle.

“The American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) and Social Venture Circle (SVC) are pleased to support the creation of the Foundation for Energy Security Innovation (FESI), as proposed by Senators Coons, Graham and Lujan,” said Carolyn Pincus, Director of Strategy, American Sustainable Business Council. “The United States continues to need the federal government to work in supporting and attracting private investment into the clean energy sector, and applaud any and all efforts for non-partisan partnerships to help pave the way for achieving net-zero goals. With the ever-mounting challenges that continue to emerge in regards to climate change, social equity and economic innovation, the creation of FESI would be a welcome initiative. ASBC and SVC look forward to working with members of Congress and the White House to achieve our climate, social and economic goals.”

“Confluence Philanthropy has been closing following the development of the Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation and whole-heartedly endorses it to advance collaboration with energy researchers, institutions of higher education, industry, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations to accelerate the commercialization of energy technologies,” said Dana Lanza, CEO, Confluence Philanthropy. “Increasing private and philanthropic sector investments that support efforts to create, characterize, develop, test, validate, and deploy or commercialize innovative technologies that address crosscutting national energy challenges is timely and essential.”

“AURP supports the Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act,” said Brian Darmody, CEO, Association of University Research Parks. “As a leading nonprofit helping universities, federal laboratories, hospitals, and communities across the U.S. build communities of innovation, AURP has advocated for flexible and meaningful engagement of the federal labs in tech-based economic development. Providing DOE labs flexible partnership authority like that enjoyed by university research foundations is a move forward for U.S. competitiveness.”

“The Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation is an idea whose time has come,” said David Hart, Senior Fellow, Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. “It will help DOE achieve its mission with greater agility and effectiveness, offer the private sector and philanthropy valuable new ways to engage with the Department’s unparalleled resources for science and innovation, and accelerate the translation of DOE-funded ideas into commercial use.”

“The United States has benefited greatly from federally funded R&D, but we are in a new era where science alone cannot meet the great challenges of our time,” said Jetta Wong, President of JLW Advising and former Director of Technology Transitions, DOE. “The creation of a DOE Foundation will strengthen our R&D system by leveraging additional funding sources as well as new public private partnership models to accelerate the commercialization of new technology into the market.”

“FedTech, a venture accelerator specializing in the commercialization of technology, looks forward to the establishment of the Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation (FESI),” said Ben Solomon, Founder and Managing Partner, FedTech. “This organization will prove to be a vital part of the entrepreneurial ecosystem as the United States develops the next generation of breakthrough technology-based ventures, driving economic growth and American competitiveness.” 

“NASEO—the National Association of State Energy Officials—supports the Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act and creation of a Foundation for Energy Security and Innovation (FESI),” said David Terry, Executive Director, National Association of State Energy Officials. “FESI will accelerate the commercialization of energy technologies needed to strengthen the nation’s economy and resilience while meeting our critical climate and environmental challenges. We look forward to robust State Energy Office engagement with FESI.”

The Partnerships for Energy Security and Innovation Act would:

  • Support private-sector investment. Provides a mechanism to channel private-sector investment into commercializing energy technologies and facilitates coordination among DOE’s National Labs and their associated foundations. 
  • Accelerate commercialization. Facilitates public-private partnerships and encourages new ideas such as increased regional economic development and prize competitions.
  • Convene industry leaders. Supports events, briefings, and symposia to create a forum for stakeholders to share ideas and collaborate on complex energy problems.   

The bill text can be found here. A summary of the bill can be found here.    


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