The U.S. Senate has unanimously passed legislation geared to strengthen industrial and federal agency energy efficiency programs. It now heads to the White House for signature into law by President Barack Obama.
The legislation will extend the success of the 25-year old Department of Energy appliance efficiency program. It is estimated that by 2030, the DOE program, as amended by H.R. 6582, the “American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act,” will reduce national electrical demand 12 percent below what it otherwise would be — at virtually no cost to American taxpayers.
Championed in the Senate by Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), and with the support of his colleagues Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Rob Portman (R-OH), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and others, the act, as passed, would establish efficiency standards for certain specialized products, consolidate other standards and provide the Energy Department with the flexibility to consider new technologies in achieving energy efficiency goals. It also addresses the important issues of industrial efficiency and federal agency energy efficiency by coordinating research and development among DOE offices, requiring implementation plans for measuring Federal agency efficiency performance and examining the barriers to the deployment of energy efficient technologies in the industrial sector.
Specifically, the American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act includes five key areas of improvement. The legislation:
- Requires the Department of Energy (DOE), in collaboration with the Department of Defense and the General Services Administration, to develop and issue an annual best-practices report on advanced metering of energy use in federal facilities
- Directs the DOE to establish collaborative research and development partnerships to improve industrial efficiency
- Compels certain federal facilities to use a Web-based tracking system to publish energy and water consumption data on an individual basis
- Requires the DOE to conduct a study, in conjunction with the industrial sector, of the barriers to deployment of industrial efficiency technologies such as electric motors, demand response, combined heat and power, and waste heat recovery—and to provide policy recommendations for overcoming these barriers
- Clarifies the factors the Secretary of Energy must consider as part of the economic justification for any new minimum efficiency standard under the residential appliance and commercial equipment energy conservation program
- Also makes certain technical corrections to lighting efficiency and electric motor provisions in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007
Sen. Bingaman lauded the legislation, saying, “Energy efficiency cuts waste, saves consumers and businesses money, strengthens our economy, improves electric-grid reliability and reduces pollution. This bill will save energy and jobs and continue the tradition of collaboration among industry, consumer groups and energy efficiency advocates in improving energy efficiency. I am heartened to see the continued bipartisan commitment to energy efficiency that is demonstrated by the passage of H.R. 6582.”
Sen. Murkowski commented, “This bill will improve how we use energy, while providing adequate protections for manufacturers to ensure they can remain competitive. The bill contains standards that were developed by consensus. It’s encouraging to see all sides on this issue working together to find areas of agreement and pass bipartisan energy legislation.”
The senators said that it was important to recognize the contributions of their colleagues, including Sens. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Christopher Coons (D-DE), Bob Corker (R-TN), Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Richard Shelby (R-AL). This bill reflects the continuing bi-partisan commitment to these programs and to the fundamental role that energy efficiency plays in a balanced and successful national energy policy.
The National Electrical Manufacturers Association, an Arlington, Virginia-based trade group, issued the following statement: “[We welcome] the House passage of several energy efficiency amendments … NEMA is committed to increasing our energy independence and this legislation takes key steps in that direction.”
“Continuing to develop our industrial energy efficiency standards will better ensure American manufacturing remains competitive in today’s international market,” U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) said. “We are at a critical moment, and if America is going to lead, we have to work together to set a long-term strategy that moves us toward an efficient, clean energy economy. Energy efficiency is one of the smartest, strongest ways that we can see progress in the country. It should be the one thing that allows us to bridge all of the competing interests and concerns because it promotes energy independence and American employment.”
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Edited by Brooke Neuman