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BCSE In The News

Reintroduction of the Shaheen-Portman energy savings bill

By: Barbara Vergetis Lundin, Fierce Energy
Published: March 13, 2015

Many are hoping that the third time will be the charm as Senators Portman (R-Oh.) and Shaheen (D-N.H.) reintroduced a new version of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (now Portman-Shaheen or the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2015) this week.

It's no wonder so many remain cautiously optimistic. Portman-Shaheen closely resembles S. 2262 and contains provisions that will increase U.S. energy productivity, enhance energy security, reduce emissions and promote economic growth. It is estimated that by 2030 the bill will create 192,000 jobs, produce energy savings worth $16.2 billion annually and reduce annual carbon dioxide emissions by 95 million metric tons, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

Further, the combined annual energy costs for U.S. commercial buildings and industrial facilities total $202.3 billion, and more than 30 percent of the building's energy use is inefficient, according to the Energy Information Agency. A modest ten percent improvement in efficiency would save $20 billion annually.

Timing of the reintroduction is ideal, as energy efficiency has been a focal point of debate and received broad support in the new Congress, as evidenced by inclusion of energy efficiency amendments in Keystone XL earlier this year, the Alliance contends, urging the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Senate leadership to build on this early support and act swiftly to pass the legislation through committee and take it to the Senate floor.

"The significance of the proposal cannot be underestimated, because it tackles market barriers to greater investment in energy efficiency," said National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) President and CEO Kevin J. Cosgriff. "We urge the Senate to act quickly to lower Americans' energy bills by enacting this bipartisan, and much needed legislation."

To demonstrate that "everyday Americans" would also support a bill like Portman-Shaheen, NEMA points to a 2014 poll it conducted that found a substantial majority of those consumers polled support measures to promote energy efficiency.

For example, 90 percent support using energy-efficient products and believe it is important to include energy efficiency as part of America's energy solutions while 74 percent support investing taxpayer dollars on energy-efficient technologies, innovations, and programs -- if it would save consumers more money. Finally, 69 percent are more likely to support investing taxpayer dollars on energy efficiency if those investments will not raise taxes or add to the federal deficit and do not involve government mandates on consumers.

Also among those hoping the third time is the charm for the bill, the Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) applauds the Senators.

"The Senators have worked long and hard over the past several years on their legislation to help consumers, businesses, and industry save money on their energy bills," said BCSE President Lisa Jacobson. "With the re-introduction of this legislation, and their commitment to get it over the finish line, they are helping to set our country on the course towards greater energy efficiency and economic growth."