Spotlight: Alliance Applauds Honorary Vice-Chairs Wyden and Portman
The Alliance to Save Energy is privileged to have influential members of Congress serving as our Honorary Vice-Chairs. Through their strong leadership, the Alliance has continued to advocate for the advancement of energy efficiency to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment and energy security.
In this series, we will highlight the excellent work of our Honorary Vice-Chairs and the states they represent. This first installment spotlights the diligent efficiency efforts of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon and Senator Rob Portman from Ohio.
Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR)
Senator Wyden (D-OR) has been a fixture on the Hill for over 30 years. Initially elected to the House of Representatives in 1982, he successfully switched to the Senate in 1996. Senator Wyden has always been a strong supporter of energy efficiency and in recent years has been favorably positioned to have a significant impact on efficiency legislation. He was elected as an Honorary Vice-Chair at the Alliance to Save Energy in January 2013, which coincided with his ascension to Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. As Energy Chairman, Senator Wyden worked hard to promote energy efficiency legislation, namely S.1392 — the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, but also supported leveling the playing field for renewable energy sources compared to traditional carbon-based sources.
Following the appointment of Senator Baucus as Ambassador to China earlier this year, Senator Wyden took the reins as Chairman of the Finance Committee. As Finance Chairman, Senator Wyden wasted no time in introducing S.2260 — the EXPIRE Act of 2014, which would extend expiring tax provisions through 2015. Several of these tax provisions are particularly important for energy efficiency and the Alliance is hopeful this legislation will be passed. However, Senator Wyden has stated that he would rather address an outdated tax code than frequently approve extensions for specific tax incentives, which opens the door for overall tax reform and, in particular, energy tax reform.
Energy efficiency is a priority in Senator Wyden’s home state of Oregon, which has regulatory requirements favorable to energy efficiency. These factors have helped Oregon tie for 3rd place in ACEEE’s 2014 Energy Efficiency Scorecard ranking. The state government leads by example and has designed several programs mandating or encouraging the use of energy efficiency, like the State Energy Efficiency Design Program (SEED), which requires all recently constructed state facilities to be 20% more energy efficient than required by state building codes. It also provides financial incentives, like the State Energy Loan Program and Cool Schools Program, to reduce barriers to further increase the use of energy efficiency. Oregon was also one of the first states to require its utility companies to offer residential weatherization assistance to customers beginning in 1981, and has since expanded to include a plethora of opportunities for customers to become more energy efficient.
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH)
Senator Portman (R-OH) is currently serving in his first term as Senator, but has considerable experience in Congress, having served six terms in the House of Representatives. Throughout his time in Congress, Senator Portman has pushed for a national energy plan that ensures access to reliable and affordable energy, but in a way that reduces the reliance on foreign resources and encourages the use of domestic resources. While embracing all energy resources, Senator Portman has placed strong emphasis on the use of energy efficiency in achieving those goals. Senator Portman was elected as an Honorary Vice-Chair of the Alliance in January 2013. Serving on both the Senate Finance and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committees, Senator Portman has been a tireless champion of energy efficiency.
In fact, Senator Portman has been at the forefront of legislative activity on energy efficiency in recent years. Senator Portman, along with Senator Shaheen (D-NH), first introduced S.1000, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, in 2011. This bill was initially designed to improve energy efficiency in the areas of buildings, manufacturing and the federal government, but was expanded to include areas like schools, data centers and water heaters when it was reintroduced in 2014. The impacts of this bill would be significant, as it is estimated to create 192,000 jobs, save $16.2 billion in annual energy costs and avoid 95 million metric tons of CO2 by 2030. While the bill has run into some challenges over the years, Senator Portman remains committed to the advancement of this legislation and the Alliance is hopeful that the next time it is introduced in the Senate it will pass so that the entire country will be able to benefit from these improvements in energy efficiency. In addition to his extensive work for the Shaheen-Portman bill, Senator Portman was also instrumental in crafting the S.2260 — the EXPIRE Act of 2014 — with Chairman Wyden and other cosponsors from both sides of the aisle.
Although energy efficiency policies have faced challenges recently at the state-level in Ohio, previously the state government had shown itself to be a strong leader by requiring all state agencies to complete energy audits of their respective facilities and reduce energy consumption by 15% within 4 fiscal years. All state agencies are also required to develop average fuel economy standards that must be increased each subsequent year. Even though the state legislature repealed rules that had established an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) for utility companies, most utilities in the state have chosen to continue to offer some level of efficiency programs.
We at the Alliance consider ourselves lucky to have such strong proponents for energy efficiency as our Honorary Vice-Chairs. We honor them for their tireless support of energy efficiency and look forward to future collaboration as we continue to work to advance the goal of doubling our nation’s energy productivity by 2030.