Energy Efficiency Bill Heads to the Senate

WASHINGTON — A new bipartisan energy efficiency bill, introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), lists several measures to help raise energy efficiency levels in the U.S., while creating more private-sector jobs, reducing global warming pollution and reducing the country’s dependence on oil.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.761) would update energy-efficiency requirements in building codes, make supply chains more efficient and initiate other programs that would reduce energy use by industry and federal agencies.

The bill heads to the Senate floor, after passing 19-3 in the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It is a new version of a previous Shaheen-Portman bill that died last year. The key difference between the two versions is that the latest one eliminated “a revolving state grant program and an expansion of a federal loan guarantee program for energy efficiency projects,” as reported by The Hill. “Instead the draft calls for a state-based private-financing program to encourage industrial energy efficiency upgrades.”

Some elements from the previous bill were part of an efficiency bill that passed in December. The bill called for the Department of Energy to research barriers to energy efficiency in the industrial sector and to identify best practices for advanced metering, as well as required federal facilities to track energy and water consumption.

According to Jeanne Shaheen’s website, S.761 has been endorsed by a coalition of more than 200 businesses, trade associations and advocacy groups. A broad coalition of supporters sent a letter to the Senate to express their strong support for bringing the bill to the Senate floor for a vote.

While several businesses are supporting the bill, reports say that a possible amendment of the bill could exclude the use of LEED standards from federal procurement processes — the reason being that LEED restrictions are too strict —according to Design Build Source. Instead, the bill would require the use of ANSI rating systems by the General Services Administration for procurement processes of the almost 10,000 federal buildings under the organization’s management.