Text: H.R.632 — 110th Congress (2007-2008)All Information (Except Text)

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Referred in Senate (06/07/2007)

1st Session
H. R. 632


June 7, 2007

Received; read twice and referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources


To authorize the Secretary of Energy to establish monetary prizes for achievements in overcoming scientific and technical barriers associated with hydrogen energy.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “H-Prize Act of 2007”.

SEC. 2. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) ADMINISTERING ENTITY.—The term “administering entity” means the entity with which the Secretary enters into an agreement under section 3(c).

(2) DEPARTMENT.—The term “Department” means the Department of Energy.

(3) SECRETARY.—The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Energy.

SEC. 3. Prize authority.

(a) In general.—The Secretary shall carry out a program to competitively award cash prizes in conformity with this Act to advance the research, development, demonstration, and commercial application of hydrogen energy technologies.

(b) Advertising and solicitation of competitors.—

(1) ADVERTISING.—The Secretary shall widely advertise prize competitions to encourage broad participation, including by individuals, universities (including historically Black colleges and universities and other minority serving institutions), and large and small businesses (including businesses owned or controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged persons).

(2) ANNOUNCEMENT THROUGH FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE.—The Secretary shall announce each prize competition by publishing a notice in the Federal Register. This notice shall include essential elements of the competition such as the subject of the competition, the duration of the competition, the eligibility requirements for participation in the competition, the process for participants to register for the competition, the amount of the prize, and the criteria for awarding the prize.

(c) Administering the competitions.—The Secretary shall enter into an agreement with a private, nonprofit entity to administer the prize competitions, subject to the provisions of this Act. The duties of the administering entity under the agreement shall include—

(1) advertising prize competitions and their results;

(2) raising funds from private entities and individuals to pay for administrative costs and to contribute to cash prizes, including funds provided in exchange for the right to name a prize awarded under this section;

(3) developing, in consultation with and subject to the final approval of the Secretary, the criteria for selecting winners in prize competitions, based on goals provided by the Secretary;

(4) determining, in consultation with the Secretary, the appropriate amount and funding sources for each prize to be awarded, subject to the final approval of the Secretary with respect to Federal funding;

(5) providing advice and consultation to the Secretary on the selection of judges in accordance with section 4(d), using criteria developed in consultation with and subject to the final approval of the Secretary; and

(6) protecting against the entity’s unauthorized use or disclosure of a registered participant’s trade secrets and confidential business information. Any information properly identified as trade secrets or confidential business information that is submitted by a participant as part of a competitive program under this Act may be withheld from public disclosure.

(d) Funding sources.—Prizes under this Act shall consist of Federal appropriated funds and any funds provided by the administering entity (including funds raised pursuant to subsection (c)(2)) for such cash prize programs. The Secretary may accept funds from other Federal agencies for such cash prizes and, notwithstanding section 3302(b) of title 31, United States Code, may use such funds for the cash prize program. Other than publication of the names of prize sponsors, the Secretary may not give any special consideration to any private sector entity or individual in return for a donation to the Secretary or administering entity.

(e) Announcement of prizes.—The Secretary may not issue a notice required by subsection (b)(2) until all the funds needed to pay out the announced amount of the prize have been appropriated or committed in writing by the administering entity. The Secretary may increase the amount of a prize after an initial announcement is made under subsection (b)(2) if—

(1) notice of the increase is provided in the same manner as the initial notice of the prize; and

(2) the funds needed to pay out the announced amount of the increase have been appropriated or committed in writing by the administering entity.

(f) Sunset.—The authority to announce prize competitions under this Act shall terminate on September 30, 2018.

SEC. 4. Prize categories.

(a) Categories.—The Secretary shall establish prizes for—

(1) advancements in technologies, components, or systems related to—

(A) hydrogen production;

(B) hydrogen storage;

(C) hydrogen distribution; and

(D) hydrogen utilization;

(2) prototypes of hydrogen-powered vehicles or other hydrogen-based products that best meet or exceed objective performance criteria, such as completion of a race over a certain distance or terrain or generation of energy at certain levels of efficiency; and

(3) transformational changes in technologies for the distribution or production of hydrogen that meet or exceed far-reaching objective criteria, which shall include minimal carbon emissions and which may include cost criteria designed to facilitate the eventual market success of a winning technology.

(b) Awards.—

(1) ADVANCEMENTS.—To the extent permitted under section 3(e), the prizes authorized under subsection (a)(1) shall be awarded biennially to the most significant advance made in each of the four subcategories described in subparagraphs (A) through (D) of subsection (a)(1) since the submission deadline of the previous prize competition in the same category under subsection (a)(1) or the date of enactment of this Act, whichever is later, unless no such advance is significant enough to merit an award. No one such prize may exceed $1,000,000. If less than $4,000,000 is available for a prize competition under subsection (a)(1), the Secretary may omit one or more subcategories, reduce the amount of the prizes, or not hold a prize competition.

(2) PROTOTYPES.—To the extent permitted under section 3(e), prizes authorized under subsection (a)(2) shall be awarded biennially in alternate years from the prizes authorized under subsection (a)(1). The Secretary is authorized to award up to one prize in this category in each 2-year period. No such prize may exceed $4,000,000. If no registered participants meet the objective performance criteria established pursuant to subsection (c) for a competition under this paragraph, the Secretary shall not award a prize.

(3) TRANSFORMATIONAL TECHNOLOGIES.—To the extent permitted under section 3(e), the Secretary shall announce one prize competition authorized under subsection (a)(3) as soon after the date of enactment of this Act as is practicable. A prize offered under this paragraph shall be not less than $10,000,000, paid to the winner in a lump sum, and an additional amount paid to the winner as a match for each dollar of private funding raised by the winner for the hydrogen technology beginning on the date the winner was named. The match shall be provided for 3 years after the date the prize winner is named or until the full amount of the prize has been paid out, whichever occurs first. A prize winner may elect to have the match amount paid to another entity that is continuing the development of the winning technology. The Secretary shall announce the rules for receiving the match in the notice required by section 3(b)(2). The Secretary shall award a prize under this paragraph only when a registered participant has met the objective criteria established for the prize pursuant to subsection (c) and announced pursuant to section 3(b)(2). Not more than $10,000,000 in Federal funds may be used for the prize award under this paragraph. The administering entity shall seek to raise $40,000,000 toward the matching award under this paragraph.

(c) Criteria.—In establishing the criteria required by this Act, the Secretary—

(1) shall consult with the Department’s Hydrogen Technical and Fuel Cell Advisory Committee;

(2) shall consult with other Federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation; and

(3) may consult with other experts such as private organizations, including professional societies, industry associations, and the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

(d) Judges.—For each prize competition, the Secretary in consultation with the administering entity shall assemble a panel of qualified judges to select the winner or winners on the basis of the criteria established under subsection (c). Judges for each prize competition shall include individuals from outside the Department, including from the private sector. A judge, spouse, minor children, and members of the judge’s household may not—

(1) have personal or financial interests in, or be an employee, officer, director, or agent of, any entity that is a registered participant in the prize competition for which he or she will serve as a judge; or

(2) have a familial or financial relationship with an individual who is a registered participant in the prize competition for which he or she will serve as a judge.

SEC. 5. Eligibility.

To be eligible to win a prize under this Act, an individual or entity—

(1) shall have complied with all the requirements in accordance with the Federal Register notice required under section 3(b)(2);

(2) in the case of a private entity, shall be incorporated in and maintain a primary place of business in the United States, and in the case of an individual, whether participating singly or in a group, shall be a citizen of, or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence in, the United States; and

(3) shall not be a Federal entity, a Federal employee acting within the scope of his employment, or an employee of a national laboratory acting within the scope of his employment.

SEC. 6. Intellectual property.

The Federal Government shall not, by virtue of offering or awarding a prize under this Act, be entitled to any intellectual property rights derived as a consequence of, or direct relation to, the participation by a registered participant in a competition authorized by this Act. This section shall not be construed to prevent the Federal Government from negotiating a license for the use of intellectual property developed for a prize competition under this Act.

SEC. 7. Liability.

(a) Waiver of liability.—The Secretary may require registered participants to waive claims against the Federal Government and the administering entity (except claims for willful misconduct) for any injury, death, damage, or loss of property, revenue, or profits arising from the registered participants’ participation in a competition under this Act. The Secretary shall give notice of any waiver required under this subsection in the notice required by section 3(b)(2). The Secretary may not require a registered participant to waive claims against the administering entity arising out of the unauthorized use or disclosure by the administering entity of the registered participant’s trade secrets or confidential business information.

(b) Liability insurance.—

(1) REQUIREMENTS.—Registered participants shall be required to obtain liability insurance or demonstrate financial responsibility, in amounts determined by the Secretary, for claims by—

(A) a third party for death, bodily injury, or property damage or loss resulting from an activity carried out in connection with participation in a competition under this Act; and

(B) the Federal Government for damage or loss to Government property resulting from such an activity.

(2) FEDERAL GOVERNMENT INSURED.—The Federal Government shall be named as an additional insured under a registered participant’s insurance policy required under paragraph (1)(A), and registered participants shall be required to agree to indemnify the Federal Government against third party claims for damages arising from or related to competition activities.

SEC. 8. Report to Congress.

Not later than 60 days after the awarding of the first prize under this Act, and annually thereafter, the Secretary shall transmit to the Congress a report that—

(1) identifies each award recipient;

(2) describes the technologies developed by each award recipient; and

(3) specifies actions being taken toward commercial application of all technologies with respect to which a prize has been awarded under this Act.

SEC. 9. Authorization of appropriations.

(a) Authorization of appropriations.—

(1) AWARDS.—There are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary for the period encompassing fiscal years 2008 through 2017 for carrying out this Act—

(A) $20,000,000 for awards described in section (4)(a)(1);

(B) $20,000,000 for awards described in section 4(a)(2); and

(C) $10,000,000 for the award described in section 4(a)(3).

(2) ADMINISTRATION.—In addition to the amounts authorized in paragraph (1), there are authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary for each of fiscal years 2008 and 2009 $2,000,000 for the administrative costs of carrying out this Act.

(b) Carryover of funds.—Funds appropriated for prize awards under this Act shall remain available until expended, and may be transferred, reprogrammed, or expended for other purposes only after the expiration of 10 fiscal years after the fiscal year for which the funds were originally appropriated. No provision in this Act permits obligation or payment of funds in violation of section 1341 of title 31 of the United States Code (commonly referred to as the Anti-Deficiency Act).

SEC. 10. Nonsubstitution.

The programs created under this Act shall not be considered a substitute for Federal research and development programs.

Passed the House of Representatives June 6, 2007.

    Attest: lorraine c. miller,