Senate Takes a Significant Step Toward a Modern Energy Economy

Release Date: Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Passage of the Energy Policy Modernization Act Will Benefit All Americans

Today’s overwhelming passage by the U.S. Senate of S. 2012, the Energy Policy Modernization Act, by a tally of 85-12 represents a significant step forward on the path toward a modernized energy economy. The Alliance to Save Energy applauds the widespread benefits this bill’s energy efficiency provisions will result in: more American jobs, enhanced national security and an improved environment. Today’s positive step sends a strong bipartisan message that will help this bill safely to the finish line and across President Obama’s desk.

The Alliance is pleased to note the bill’s inclusion of the Sensible Accounting to Value Energy (SAVE) Act amendment, S. Amdt. #3202, which passed with a resounding 66 to 31 vote. The SAVE Act will improve the accuracy of mortgage underwriting used by federal mortgage agencies by including a property’s energy use as a factor in determining the value and affordability of a home, to facilitate energy efficiency.

Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan said, “We applaud the tenacity and commitment of Alliance Honorary Board member, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who have persevered to deliver a bill that includes strong energy efficiency policies that will help to grow our economy.”

In recent years, Senate energy legislation has gone through many iterations and has had several ups and downs. A constant throughout the process has been the strength of energy efficiency legislation, with bill and amendment provisions preserving the promise of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, saving consumers and businesses billions annually and avoiding millions of metric tons of CO2 emissions.

  • A version of the Alliance-supported Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act was first introduced in 2011 by Sens. Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Portman (R-Ohio), and has been introduced in each Congress since, providing the basis for S. 2012’s energy efficiency provisions.  
  • In May 2015, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015, S. 535, was signed into law with bipartisan support, the first energy legislation signed during President Obama’s tenure.
  • In September 2015, today’s newly signed S. 2012 was introduced by Sens. Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Cantwell (D-Wash.).

Senator Portman and I first introduced our energy efficiency bill five years ago,” said Senator Jeanne Shaheen. “Senate gridlock couldn’t keep this good policy down forever. I’m happy to say persistence has once again paid-off. When the President signed our more targeted energy efficiency bill into law last year, it proved that Washington can make progress on addressing our nation’s energy needs when politics is set aside. This larger energy efficiency bill represents another opportunity to help our nation improve energy productivity, reduce carbon pollution, create domestic jobs, save families and businesses money and grow our economy. I will continue to reach across the aisle to pass more common-sense energy efficiency bills because it’s good for our economy and it’s good for our environment. I want to thank Senator Portman again for his partnership on this important legislation.”

“Our energy efficiency bill helps create jobs, save consumers money on their energy bills, and clean up our environment,” Senator Rob Portman said. “This measure will help American manufacturing companies better compete with companies in Europe and Japan, keeping more jobs here and easing the middle class squeeze, while reducing carbon emissions equivalent to taking 20 million cars off the road. That’s a victory for all of us. A lot of hard work over the last five years went into passage of this bipartisan bill and I want to thank Senator Shaheen for being a true partner throughout this process.”

Callahan continued, “The impactful energy efficiency provisions are the product of more than four years of hard work and bi-partisan leadership by Alliance Honorary Chair Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Alliance Vice-Chair Senator Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Alliance Honorary Board member, Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), all of whom refused to give up the fight for American businesses and consumers to benefit from lower energy bills, a cleaner environment and a more energy-secure nation.” Callahan commented, “It’s been a long time coming, but Sens. Shaheen, Portman and Murkowski have won an important victory for all Americans.”

Alliance to Save Energy’s Director of Government Relations, Daniel Bresette, said, “Senate passage of S. 2012 is an important bipartisan step along the way to enactment of strong national energy efficiency policies. The efficiency title of S. 2012, based on Portman-Shaheen, SAVE Act, water efficiency, federal building and other provisions will deliver big gains for energy productivity across the board."

Currently, there is an enormous gulf between the energy efficiency provisions in the House of Representatives and Senate versions of the bill. The Alliance to Save Energy urges leaders in the House to work with the leaders in the Senate to deliver a meaningful, bipartisan energy bill that the President will sign. This bill should include the beneficial and impactful provisions that have been carefully crafted by the Senate, and which would garner broad bipartisan support in both chambers.

Infographic: What the Energy Policy Modernization Means for Efficiency Across Sectors