Portman, Shaheen Introduce Energy-efficiency Bill

Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, introduced energy-efficiency legislation similar to energy efficiency legislation they have been trying to get passed for the last six years and has attracted broad bipartisan support in the past from consumer-owned utilities and others.

The legislation, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, calls for energy efficiency policy measures that will strengthen the economy and reduce pollution, the senators said in a Feb. 15 news release. They noted that components of a previous version of the bill were signed into law by President Obama in April 2015 “and are already helping individuals and companies use less energy, creating jobs and reducing emissions.”

Taken together, these bipartisan reforms “include common-sense initiatives that will create nearly 200,000 new jobs and help the economy by saving consumers $16.2 billion annually in reduced energy costs by 2030,” said Shaheen and Portman.

They noted that the bill, S. 385, has received broad bipartisan support and passed the Senate last year by a vote of 85-12, though it stalled in the House. Original cosponsors include Sens. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Chris Coons, D-Del., Al Franken, D-Minn., Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Mark Warner, D-Va., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss. Among those who have endorsed it are the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Chemistry Council and the Alliance to Save Energy.

“Energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest way to address our energy challenges in New Hampshire and around the country,” said Shaheen. “It’s also the largest sector in the U.S. clean energy economy, employing nearly 2.2 million Americans. Our bipartisan legislation would create jobs in the private sector, save families and businesses money, and drastically reduce pollution in a smart, effective and affordable way. Simply put, it’s good for our economy and good for our environment – that’s why it enjoys broad bipartisan support.”

Portman: bill would help consumers

Portman called the bill is “a win-win, creating nearly 200,000 new jobs and protecting our environment—all without a single new tax or mandate.”

The measure “would reduce our carbon emissions equivalent to taking 22 million cars off the road over the next 15 years and give our workers in Ohio and around the country a competitive advantage by making our plants more energy efficient. It’s good news for the taxpayer, too, because it would make the federal government practice what it preaches and use energy more efficiently. And by saving consumers about $16.2 billion in reduced energy costs, it will help folks who are just trying to get by, bringing down the cost of living, easing the middle-class squeeze, and giving them a few dollars extra at the end of each month that they can use for a needed expense, or savings for an investment in a kid’s college education or for retirement. There is a reason this bill has garnered such widespread support. Congress should take it up as soon as possible.”

Included in the bill are provisions calling for greater energy efficiency in building codes, worker training, coordination of retrofitting assistance for schools, and an energy performance requirement for federal buildings.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy estimated in a 2014 study that, by the year 2030, the bill would create more than 190,000 jobs, save consumers $16.2 billion a year, and cut CO2 emissions and other air pollutants by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road.

Bill passed House in 2014, passed Senate last year

The two senators have been trying for several years to get their energy efficiency bill through Congress, and it has come close a couple of times.

In early 2014, the legislation passed the House with a broad bipartisan vote of 375-36, but then stalled in the Senate. The American Public Power Association, the Alliance to Save Energy and a broad coalition of over 80 companies, organizations, and trade associations wrote to the Senate majority leader and the chamber’s minority leader that spring, asking them to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, but it never happened. Last year, Shaheen-Portman legislation was incorporated into a broad energy bill that passed the Senate, but could not make headway in the House.

Alliance president calls for passage

“This is exactly the kind of legislation Americans want Congress to pass — bipartisan, common-sense policy that saves taxpayers money and drives economic activity and job creation,” said Kateri Callahan, president of the Alliance to Save Energy.

“There are nearly 2.2 million energy efficiency jobs across the country — in manufacturing, installation, construction, engineering and other sectors,” Callahan said. “We added 130,000 efficiency jobs last year alone, and the policies in this legislation will only boost those numbers moving forward.” Saying that the bill should have been passed several years ago, Callahan urged leaders in both parties “to put an end to the gridlock and finally move it across the finish line.”

The Alliance to Save Energy’s board of directors recently named Gil Quiniones, CEO of the New York Power Authority, as the group’s new chairman.

Reposted with permission from Public Power Daily

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