Keep the Shaheen-Portman Bill Clean!
Catherine Thomasson, MD
July 30, 2013
PSR been advocating for energy efficiency for years to reduce the chances for catastrophic climate change. It’s the quickest, most cost effective method to reduce our energy footprint. It saves companies and homeowners money and protects our health by reducing the amount of dirty fossil fuel burning needed for electricity. That’s why PSR is supports the Shaheen-Portman bill (S. 761), a bi-partisan piece of energy efficiency legislation.
The bill provides common sense direction for improvement in building codes, provides new mechanisms of financing, voluntary labeling of products, technical assistance, and rebate programs, all of which are needed to provide necessary incentives for capital investment in residential, commercial, and industry buildings.
But wait, haven’t we seen a similar “Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act” before? A similar bill (S.1000 in 2011), by the same authors, was gored by amendments that caused it to die on the floor. It is very important to avoid that outcome this time. In fact, PSR participated in a community letter co-signed by twenty other organizations and sent to all the senators last week.
This bill doesn’t rock the boat: it was strictly created to save money, save energy, and cut carbon pollution. If amendments don’t adhere to these consensus principles, they should not be considered. Amendments are already proposed to promote dirty energy sources and to undermine existing efficiency tools which if passed will cause this effective bill to fail. We need to encourage all senators to vote against them.
How it Works
When is the last time you put in insulation, upgraded to an energy efficient heat pump or replaced your light bulbs? “Reaping the rewards of efficiency requires an upfront investment.” This bill calls for the Department of Energy to provide grants to states “to establish or expand programs to promote the financing of energy efficiency retrofit projects for private sector and commercial buildings.”
We’ve learned from the efforts of Architecture 2030 that buildings consume 49% of all energy produced in the US and that technology already available has the capacity to make them energy neutral by 2030. This bill will help make that happen. It includes voluntary strengthening of energy efficiency requirements in building codes and requires federal agencies to apply energy savings techniques.
On the industrial side, the bill will establish a DOE program – SupplySTAR - to help make companies’ supply chains more efficient and to create an energy efficient transformer rebate program. For education, the bill will provide direction for grants to higher education programs for training in building efficiency and assessment.
This bill doesn’t do everything. In fact, according to an analysis by the US Energy Information Association it only achieves about half of the projected savings from energy efficiency actions they recommend, but given the bill’s call for voluntary building codes and the need for compromise to create a bipartisan bill that is not surprising.
As proposed, the Shaheen-Portman bill (S.761) provides common sense action to increase energy efficiency in our buildings and industries and has PSR’s support. It is now your job to contact your senator and voice your opinion. The bill is likely to fail if amendments are passed that reduce the capability of this bill to carry bipartisan support. Take Action now!