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Sen. Maria Cantwell discusses net neutrality at a 2017 town hall in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg)

Sen. Maria Cantwell introduced four bills Wednesday intended to modernize the federal government’s energy infrastructure. The Democrat from Washington state is a senior member of the Senate Energy Committee and a vocal advocate on tech issues like net neutrality.

Cantwell re-introduced the bills this week after they did not advance in previous sessions. Her staff expects the bills to be incorporated into broader legislation the Energy Committee is developing. Cantwell’s legislation has four focus areas: smart buildings, energy grid modernization, cybersecurity in energy infrastructure, and workforce development.

More specifically, the bills:

— Authorize the Department of Energy to update the power grid with new technologies and invest in green infrastructure like electric vehicle charging stations

— Study smart building technology and direct some federal buildings to retrofit with those technologies

— Test and shore up cybersecurity for energy systems, national labs, and other agencies

— Establish an advisory board and grant program at the Department of Energy to develop a workforce skilled in the energy sector

Democrats in both houses of Congress are pushing for clean energy investments to combat climate change and create jobs. The most high-profile legislation is the Green New Deal sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. While that bill quickly became hyper-partisan, Cantwell says the broader Energy Committee legislation will have bipartisan support.

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