03/21/16 : Daniel Bresette

Alliance to Save Energy and Our Allies in Congress Lay Down Ambitious Markers for Investment in Energy Efficiency and Innovation

Congressional leaders have adopted an accelerated schedule to consider and approve funding levels for the federal government in the next fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017). And so the Alliance to Save Energy and our supporters in the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate have responded with strong statements and actions in support for robust funding for energy efficiency programs at the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Generally, this year, the Alliance is advocating for funding in line with President Obama’s budget (summarized here) and support for his significant “Mission Innovation” initiative, which would increase funding for important research and development activities in the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and elsewhere across the department.

The budget and appropriations cycle is in full swing. President Obama proposed his funding priorities on Feb. 9. Agency heads, including Energy Secretary Moniz, are appearing before the House and Senate Appropriations Committee to provide testimony and answer questions. The Alliance and coalitions of like-minded organizations studied the president’s budget and submitted letters of support for EPA ENERGY STAR and DOE energy efficiency programs to House and Senate appropriators. Alliance President Kateri Callahan also submitted testimony on funding levels to the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee and to the House Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. 

The Alliance is fortunate to have committed allies in both ends of the Capitol. Alliance Honorary Board Chair Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Honorary Board Member Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) are leading the charge and working with their colleagues to provide the funding necessary to carry out energy efficiency programs that deliver benefits and returns to American households and businesses many times greater than the public’s investment. Likewise, friend-of-the-Alliance Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) has marshalled support for critical funding for DOE’s State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program. Results have so far exceeded expectations: more senators and representatives have communicated their energy efficiency priorities to their colleagues serving as appropriators than last year. 

It is too early to know the outcome of this outreach or how it will affect funding for energy efficiency programs. Months of hearings, deliberations and negotiations are yet to happen. But even at this early stage, thanks to our energy efficiency champions in Congress, some important groundwork is set and ready to build on.