07/27/15: Kateri Callahan

Boost Energy Efficiency Measures to Benefit American Consumers

Letter to Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman and Members

Dear Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell,

First, a very hearty congratulations on developing a bi-partisan, comprehensive energy bill that includes a number of impactful energy efficiency provisions that will save American consumers and businesses money, will create jobs, and will enhance our energy reliability and security. As you prepare for tomorrow’s markup of the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, I write on behalf of the Alliance to Save Energy to urge you to report a bill that includes the largest set of bi-partisan energy efficiency provisions possible and, as importantly, to reject amendments that would impede or roll back the important progress we are making to improve the energy productivity of our economy through sound, national energy efficiency policy. 

The heart of Committee’s efficiency title are the provisions from Senators Portman and Shaheen’s Energy Security and Industrial Competitiveness Act. These provisions are widely supported by a broad cross-section of the economy. They are well-vetted and will serve America and its people well and therefore should remain in any bill reported by the Committee. In addition, there are a number of important amendments that, if adopted, would serve to greatly increase the national economic, jobs and security benefits arising from becoming more energy efficient. Unfortunately, there also are a number of amendments that would impede and/or roll back the important progress we’re making to improve our nation’s energy productivity. (In addition to the specific amendments discussed in this letter, I have appended our position on each of the energy efficiency amendments to be considered by the Committee.)

OPPOSE EFFORTS TO WEAKEN BUILDING CODES LANGUAGE

Of deepest concern to the Alliance, several amendments have been offered that would weaken or nullify the building codes language that is contained in the Committee bill. The Alliance urges the Committee to reject any amendments that modify and/or replace the current language in the bill which represents a consensus agreement on the path forward on building energy codes that has been endorsed by almost every single stakeholder group involved in the codes process. 

Building codes are the product of dialogues and negotiations between local government officials from across the nation. These local officials, who inspect residential and commercial buildings, know what is cost-effective and feasible. Congress should not undermine the experience of these local specialists, nor should it establish a federal statutory return, or payback, on the investment in homes. We urge your opposition to the Cassidy, Risch and Capito amendments (#’s 13, 14, 15, and 75).

OPPOSE DELETION OF WEATHERIZATION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM RE-AUTHORIZATION

Senator Lee (R-Utah) has filed an amendment deleting the provision of the Committee bill that re-authorizes the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program, a proven program which enables seniors, disabled Americans and low income families with children to save on their energy bills while providing new job skills, community revitalization and health and safety benefits to residents of weatherized units. We urge the Committee to reject the Lee amendment.

SUPPORT AMENDMENTS THAT STRENGTHEN EFFICIENCY FOR THE BENEFIT OF ALL AMERICANS

We urge your support for the following amendments that add to strength of the energy efficiency title of the Committee bill:

#71: Senator Portman’s amendment to add several additional provisions to the efficiency title of the bill. 

  • More than half of the twenty six energy efficiency provisions currently in the Committee bill are drawn from Senators Portman and Shaheen’s bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act. The Portman amendment contains a number of strong efficiency measures, all of which enjoy the support of a broad cross-section of the economy.  Of particular note in the package if the so-called “SAVE Act” provision that requires federal mortgage agencies to recognize the energy efficiency upgrades in a home during the mortgage underwriting process. 

#35: Senator Heinrich’s amendment to replace furnace standard provision in current bill.

  • This critical amendment would replace language currently in the Committee bill that would prevent the Department of Energy from setting a long over-due standard on condensing furnaces indefinitely.  The amendment represents consensus language developed by the industry and advocates and which was included as part of the energy bill reported by the House Energy and Power Subcommittee last week.

#66: Senator Manchin’s amendment, known as the EPIC Act.

  • This provision would establish the Energy Productivity Innovation Challenge (EPIC) program to catalyze States to put in place innovative energy efficiency policies and programs. 

The Alliance urges the Committee to include the meaningful energy efficiency provisions highlighted in this letter and the attached list to any bill reported by the Committee. And, equally as importantly, we urge the rejection of provisions currently in the bill and/or those being proposed that would impede America’s businesses and families from reaping the benefits that accrue from rapid and widespread deployment of energy efficiency.

The Alliance to Save Energy stands ready to support the Committee members and staff in any way we can as you continue to craft the first comprehensive, bi-partisan national energy policy in nearly a decade. 

Kateri Callahan
President, Alliance to Save Energy