Energy efficiency bill makes a comeback

By Laura D’Alessandro

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, introduced a bill that supports the proliferation of energy efficiency technology in the Senate on April 18. It is the second iteration of an energy efficiency bill that passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 2011.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act supports energy efficiency technology at the residential, commercial and industrial levels while creating jobs and increasing economic competitiveness and energy security.

The Senate is expected to support the bill, according to The Hill’s energy blog, but the House may only pass its provisions piece by piece. Staffers for Shaheen and Portman have been working with House Energy and Commerce Committee staff to test the waters for taking up the legislation, according to Politico. Portman told Politico he hopes the bill will see a vote in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in May or June.

“Washington can seem pretty divided these days, but there are some things on which we can all agree,” Portman said in a news release. “This bill is one of them — it’s good for the economy and good for the environment.”

The first iteration of the bill was introduced to the 112th Congress in May of 2011 as the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011. While the bill passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, became unpopular due to its provision for expanding the U.S. Department of Energy loan program.

The bill has since been tweaked to remove expenditures that would have expanded the federal loan guarantee program for efficiency projects and created a revolving state grant program, according to a report from The Hill.

Additionally, some elements of the bill were already passed in a manufacturing efficiency bill in December. The elements were the more research-based provisions, such as asking the Department of Energy to examine barriers to energy efficiency in the industrial sector, according to Greentech Media.

Specifically, the bill takes aim at strengthening national building codes, creating a financing mechanism to promote building efficiency upgrades, establishing university-based research and training centers and encouraging cooperation between the Department of Energy and private sector on research and development of energy-efficient technology.

“Energy efficiency is the fastest, most cost-efficient way to tackle our energy needs and keep our economy competitive all while creating needed and sustainable jobs,” Shaheen said in a statement. “Passing this bill would be a clear and quick win for the economy, taxpayers and the environment.”