Spotlight: Senators Shaheen and Collins Advocate For Energy Efficiency
The Alliance to Save Energy is privileged to have 17 influential Members of Congress serving as honorary members of our Board of Directors. 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. In this fifth installment, we will recognize the impressive work that has been done to advance energy efficiency by Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Senator Susan Collins of Maine.
Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)
Senator Shaheen has been a stalwart champion of energy efficiency throughout her career. As the first woman to serve as Governor of New Hampshire, Sen. Shaheen implemented programs that improved energy efficiency and continue to produce energy savings for consumers statewide. These programs cumulatively saved New Hampshire families and businesses over $1 billion. She was instrumental in the creation of New Hampshire’s first comprehensive energy plan that identified energy efficiency as the single most cost-effective method for addressing energy concerns in the state. The development of these programs and the statewide energy plan has had a significant impact in New Hampshire and has decreased that state’s rate of energy consumption per person to one of the lowest in the in the country.
Jeanne Shaheen is the senior Senator from NH, first elected in 2008 and just this year re-elected for a second, six year term. Her role as a member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations subcommittee makes her well positioned to support and pass legislation supporting important federal energy efficiency programs. In recognition of her commitment to energy saving policies, Sen. Shaheen was elected as Chair of the Alliance to Save Energy in 2010 — the first woman to be elected to this position in the 30+ year history of the organization. She served as Chair until 2012 and has since remained active as one of the Alliance’s Honorary Vice-Chairs. Under her leadership, the Alliance has continued to promote energy efficiency policy with legislation Sen. Shaheen has authored: the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (ESICA). The product of bipartisan collaboration between Sen. Shaheen and Sen. Portman (R-Oh.), ESICA was first introduced in 2011 and is best known simply as “Shaheen-Portman.” Earlier this year, Sens. Shaheen and Portman reintroduced the bipartisan bill in the Senate with some significant additions designed to enhance the dollar and energy savings, job creation and environmental impacts of the bill and to increase bi-partisan support. The most recent version of the bill, S.2262, is projected 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 stalled in the Senate in May, Sen. Shaheen remains fully committed to seeing energy efficiency policy enacted. Just this week, Sen. Shaheen again partnered with Sen. Portman on introducing an energy efficiency package modeled after the larger Shaheen-Portman bill. The bipartisan bill introduced this week is companion legislation to an energy efficiency bill the House of Representatives passed in March 2014 and includes important provisions from the more comprehensive Shaheen-Portman bill. Sen. Shaheen is hopeful Congress will soon bring back the full Shaheen-Portman bill and see it become law.
Beyond Sen. Shaheen’s substantial work connected to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, Sen. Shaheen has also been a strong supporter of expanding the use of energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) and the extension of tax incentives for energy efficiency.
New Hampshire benefits from having one of the lowest per capita energy consumption rates but has worked to expand the adoption of energy efficiency measures across all sectors. The state government acts as a leader for stakeholders by working to reduce energy consumption in the utility sector and in its own buildings. At the state level, New Hampshire has developed an energy reduction plan based on the ENERGY STAR benchmarking and in 2009 solidified this effort by mandating that all state agencies submit energy, water and sewer data to assess progress. Energy savings performance contracts have also been used to retrofit the largest government office in Concord, and the state is currently exploring ways to increase the availability of ESPCs. Savings from NH Electric Utilities’ CORE Electric Energy Efficiency Programs, enacted in 2003, total $57.5 million to date in the state of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire has also updated its State Building Code to require that residential and commercial buildings comply with the 2009 IECC standards. Energy efficiency programs are offered by electric utilities through the NHSaves program, which is funded by a system benefits charge built in to customer rates. The program offers a range of programs, including rebates for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, lighting and weatherization.
Senator Susan Collins (R-Me.)
Senator Collins has had a long career serving the state of Maine, at both the state and federal levels. She also has had a long career of service to the Alliance having been elected to the Alliance as an Honorary Congressional Vice-Chair in 2001. She is one of the two longest-standing congressional members on the Alliance Board.
First elected to the Senate in 1996, Senator Collins has made a name for herself through her work in the areas of national defense, intelligence and in investigations into government and corporate fraud. She has also been a strong, active and vocal proponent for the environment, energy efficiency and clean energy resources.
The benefits of energy efficiency are well understood by Sen. Collins and she has proven to be an active creator as well as supporter of energy efficiency legislation. In particular, she has made it a priority to help residents of Maine and around the country by identifying the importance of weatherization services. Weatherization improvements, like better insulation or caulking to make a building airtight, help increase energy efficiency by reducing the amount of energy needed to heat the building.
Most recently, Sen. Collins cosponsored S.2052, the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act, that would expand the Weatherization Assistance Program to help more low-income persons. She has also been a backer of several energy efficiency actions taken by the Senate. Sen. Collins has cosponsored the two most recent forms of the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act in 2013 and 2014 (S.1392 and S.2262). She was also a cosponsor of a sense of the Senate resolution on the value of energy performance contracts as a budget-neutral way of achieving energy consumption reduction targets for the Federal Government.
Maine has done an effective job of adopting and implementing energy efficiency plans and programs throughout the state. The renovation or construction of state government buildings is required to include green building standards that will result in significant energy over the life of the building.
The state also was an “early adopter” of ESPCs which were first used in 1999 and have been factored into long term plans for state buildings following Maine’s decision to join the Energy Star Challenge in 2005.
Maine is also one of the few states that is helping to drive energy efficiency upgrades in residential property by requiring the disclosure of an energy efficiency checklist prior to the signing of a rental agreement. The utility sector has also made a significant improvement and the state has set up an energy efficiency resource standard (EERS) that requires electric and natural gas savings of 20% by 2020, with annual targets of ~1.6% for electric and 0.2% for natural gas. In recent years, it is estimated that the principal revenue stream for Maine’s Electric Efficiency and Conservation Fund has generated between $13-14 million per year for the state. Furthermore, all utility customers are eligible for energy efficiency services for both electric and natural gas through Efficiency Maine Trust.
We at the Alliance consider ourselves fortunate 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.