Efficiency Tax Incentives, Appliance Standards Are Positive Steps, Says Alliance to Save Energy, but Energy Bill Fails to Fully Tap Efficiency to Help Solve Energy Problems

Release Date: Sunday, November 16, 2003

Failure to Reduce Growing U.S. Oil Dependence a Major Flaw

The Alliance to Save Energy today gave tempered praise for the energy efficiency tax incentives in Congress's energy bill but noted that the supply-oriented bill as a whole fails to harness the latest energy efficiency technologies to address major energy problems, particularly increasing U.S. oil dependence.

“Our government has given us an energy production bill with a few worthy provisions for energy efficiency,” said Alliance Acting Co-President Mark Hopkins. “What we need now is an energy efficiency bill that puts in place the billions and billions of dollars of easy energy savings that polls show the vast majority of Americans believe are the answer. Missing in action are higher standards for fuel economy and electricity efficiency and a federal public benefits fund to support energy efficiency and smart energy behavior by consumers.”

“The energy bill short-changes America by not tapping the potential for energy efficiency improvements in vehicles and electricity,” said Alliance Director of Policy Kara Rinaldi . “It provides some help in the form of energy efficiency tax incentives and new standards, but the bill is largely a series of missed opportunities to advance energy efficiency and address our nation's most wasteful sectors.”

“When it comes to energy policy, our nation has a long history of short memories,” Hopkins said. “What will it take for Congress to realize that energy efficiency is the quickest, cleanest, cheapest way to extend our nation's energy supplies and protect our economic and national security?” he asked.

Among the energy-saving provisions that survived the lengthy and contentious conference process are tax incentives for energy-efficient new and existing homes, efficient commercial buildings, appliances, advanced meters, and combined heat and power systems. The efficient vehicle tax credits, including consumer tax credits for hybrid cars, remain, though at lower levels than in the Senate tax bill. Strong provisions in the energy-efficiency section of the bill include important efficiency improvements in federal buildings, new appliance efficiency standards, and continued authority for the federal government to enter into Energy Saving Performance Contracts with private-sector firms.