"Not the sexiest" is hardly a coveted adjective.

But for a pair of wide-ranging energy bills in a Congress that has failed to pass such legislation since 2007, it is a badge of honor.

Lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources committees, which released their comprehensive energy bills last week, are optimistic their legislation can pass. While far from transformative, since the bills avoid big hot-button issues, the efforts could usher in real change to the U.S. electricity system and energy markets.

"We've been waiting for this legislative action to turn into something for a while. On the House side, it's not the sexiest bill they could have come up with, but it seems like they've done a good job of avoiding any pitfalls," said Catrina Rorke, energy policy director and senior fellow with the free market group R Street Institute and a former adviser to ex-GOP Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina.

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