US Bipartisan Moves On Major Energy Savings for the Public & Private Sectors

In the US, quite remarkably and even unexpectedly, the Senate has sent a new energy efficiency bill to the President to sign into law which will help monitor and manage energy use and energy savings in the public and private sector. On top of that, US Representatives Cory Gardner (Republican) and Peter Welch (Democrat) announced the roll out of a bipartisan caucus that will focus on promoting performance contracting in government buildings across the country and thereby provide guaranteed energy savings to American taxpayers.

Robert Bowen for the Examiner report (7 December 2012):

Two days after the House passed the American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act, HB6582, the Senate passed it Friday on unanimous consent and sent it to the president for his signature. President Obama is expected to sign the bill.

The smallest carbon footprint comes from energy that is never used. That is why any energy efficiency is important given the reality of climate change.

Although the bill falls short of what many energy conservationists would have liked, it is rare in this current Congress that any bill having to do with energy efficiency is even considered let alone passed. Steven Nadel, Executive Director of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) said “This bill is a modest but bipartisan step forward, one we hope the next Congress can build upon.” Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) also agreed that a weak bill is better than no bill

So it is a step in the right direction given the realities of Washington even if they are baby steps.

The bill is a blending of two House bills and a Senate bill. It does several things to promote energy efficiency and thus reducing carbon emissions and reducing our dependence on foreign oil at the same time. It was supported by The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), the National Association of Manufacturers, and other groups.

The bill has several areas of focus.

First it requires the U.S. Department of Energy, in collaboration with the U.S. 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.

This will enable the DOD and GSA to conserve energy by understanding how much they are using in each facility and determine what steps they can take to improve efficiency. The DOD is the largest consumer of electricity in the nation.

The law compels certain federal facilities to use a web-based tracking system to publish energy and water consumption data on an individual facility basis; this is in addition to existing requirements for tracking compliance with energy and water audit and savings of the measures, and benchmarking of energy use.

It also directs Energy Department to establish collaborative research and development partnerships with other programs to support the use of innovative manufacturing processes and applied research for development, demonstration, and commercialization of new technologies and processes to improve industrial efficiency.

Industry is a large consumer of energy both for heating and cooling as well as running equipment. If industrial facilities and their equipment become more energy efficient the savings will be dramatic.

The Act requires the Energy Department 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.

It 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.

One of the energy saving provisions of the Act is that it establishing a uniform energy efficiency descriptor that applies to all residential water heaters sold in the U. S. In addition to applying a consistent rating system for all water heaters, the bill will require the Department of Energy to develop a test method to accurately determine the descriptor for all types of water heaters including new advanced technologies introduced over the last several years.

“Passage of this legislation will help reduce the confusion that consumers face when attempting to determine the energy efficiency of the water heater they intend to purchase,” Paul W. Jones, chairman and chief executive officer of A. O. Smith Corporation, commented. “It will make it easier for them [consumers] to obtain available incentives that are based on an appliance’s energy efficiency,” he added.

Now it is up to the DOE and the DOD to use these new authorities to maximize the benefits from the legislation.



Gardner, Welch announce creation of bipartisan energy efficiency caucus

Journal-Advocate staff (6 December 2012):

U.S. Representatives Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Peter Welch (D-VT) announced the roll out of a bipartisan caucus that will focus on promoting performance contracting in government buildings across the country and thereby provide guaranteed energy savings to American taxpayers.

“The goal of our caucus is going to be pushing for policies that reduce energy costs, cut pollution, and create jobs,” Gardner and Welch said in a joint statement. “There is nearly 3 billion square feet of building space that is owned and operated by the federal government, and by making government buildings more energy efficient we can save taxpayer dollars and give a boost the construction and energy sectors of our economy.”

The Energy Savings Performance Caucus currently consists of 10 members and was inspired by Gardner and Welch’s collaboration on several amendments to promote the use of Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs).

In December of 2011, President Obama authorized department and agency heads to use up to $2 billion toward the implementation of ESPCs, which are contracts between the federal government and a private company. The federal government, however, has been slow to act on taking advantage of this energy savings, the congressmen say.

Gardner and Welch hope the formation of their caucus can move the process along a bit faster by getting executive branch departments to evaluate their own facilities and identify potential savings through ESPCs, Utility Energy Service Contracts (UESCs) and performance contracts that promote energy efficiency at the federal, state, and local level.


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