Spotlight: Rep. Tonko and Rep. Kinzinger Support Greater Efficiency in Transportation, Buildings and Beyond
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. This second installment focuses on two visionary champions of energy efficiency who serve on the influential House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.) from Illinois.
Congressman Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.-20)
Energy and climate issues have been a central priority for Congressman Tonko throughout his political career. After a 25-year career in the New York State House of Representatives, where he served as Chair of the Assembly Energy Committee for 16 years, Rep. Tonko was appointed President and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA). A long-time Alliance Associate, NYSERDA provide programs, technical support and funding to help businesses, municipalities, research institutions and consumers become more energy efficient, protect the environment and save money. During his time at NYSERDA Rep. Tonko served his first “tour of duty” on the Alliance Board of Directors, giving him the unique distinction of being the only person to have served as both a voting member and an Honorary Vice-Chair of our Board.
Once elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2008, Rep. Tonko immediately established himself as a leader in climate and energy issues, introducing six energy-related bills in his first year of office. In 2010, when Rep. Tonko rejoined the Alliance Board as an Honorary Vice-Chair, he was assigned to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, increasing his ability to promote energy efficiency and other energy legislation in the House.
Rep. Tonko has been very active on energy efficiency policy during the 113th Congress. He has sponsored several important pieces of legislation, such as H.R. 1616 – the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 and H.R. 4092 – Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2014, and voted in support of H.R. 2126, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act. While in Congress, Rep. Tonko has also introduced his own legislation to promote and advance energy efficiency investment and innovation with H.R. 4345, the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act, which addressed issues of weatherization assistance to low-income families, H.R. 2803, a bill to improve the efficiency of gas turbines, and H.R. 2971, the Innovative Energy Systems Act of 2013.
New York has a long history of investment and innovation in energy efficiency and consistently places in the “top ten” states on the ACEEE’s 2014 Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Rep. Tonko’s efforts have served as a strong foundation for subsequent energy work done in the state and have contributed to New York’s high ranking. As a member of the New York State Assembly, he guided the comprehensive energy bill the New York legislature in 1992. In 2008, as President and CEO of NYSERDA, a long-time Associate to the Alliance to Save Energy, Rep. Tonko helped New York enact and implement the state’s Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (EEPS) to reduce electricity consumption.
On the building side, the Energy Conservation Construction Code of New York was implemented in 2010, which is based on the 2009 IECC and is mandatory for both residential and commercial buildings statewide. Furthermore, by passing the Truth in Heating law, New York became the first state to require the disclosure of residential energy use at the time of sale. The state government also offers a few financing options that encourage the adoption of energy efficiency measures, such as the Green Jobs Green NY Program, the Regional Economic Development and GHG Reduction Program and the Cleaner Greener Communities Program. Additionally, the transportation sector in New York is one of the most progressive in the nation and New York has made strides to improve access to public transportation and limit urban sprawl.
Congressman Adam Kinzinger (R-Il.-16)
Prior to being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, Congressman Kinzinger was a distinguished member of the U.S. Air Force, and still holds the rank of Major in the Air National Guard. He now continues his dedicated service to his country as a lawmaker in the House. Rep. Kinzinger is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and joined the Alliance to Save Energy as an Honorary Vice-Chair soon after starting his second term in January 2013. When it comes to U.S. energy production Rep. Kinzinger believes in an “all of the above” approach. Serving a district that is home to a diverse range of energy resources, he understands the benefits of an all-inclusive energy mix. Furthermore, he acknowledges that production is only part of the equation, and that reducing energy demand through the use of energy efficiency is a crucial factor for the energy outlook of America.
Even though Rep. Kinzinger is one of the youngest members of Congress, he has wasted no time in making an impression on the energy efficiency community. During the 113th Congress, he introduced and was a sponsor to several pieces of legislation related to energy efficiency. Rep. Kinzinger introduced H.R. 4801, a bill regarding the impact of thermal insulation for potable water heaters, which passed the House in July, and H.R. 5149, the Smart Water Management Conservation and Efficiency Act of 2014, which would award grants for technological innovations that would produce energy and water savings in water, wastewater treatment and water reuse systems and is under consideration by the Energy and Commerce Committee. Representative Kinzinger has also cosponsored other pieces of energy efficiency legislation, namely H.R. 1616, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act and H.Res. 737, a measure supporting the use of performance-based contracts for federal buildings. He also voted in favor of H.R. 2126, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act.
Illinois has emerged as a leader in energy efficiency in the Midwest by improving access to energy efficiency across all sectors. The State government leads by example with laws that require a reduction in energy use for state agencies of 20% by 2020 as well as reductions in petroleum use for state-owned vehicles. In addition, energy performance savings contracts have been widely used to improve the energy efficiency of state facilities since 1994. In 2013, a law went into effect that made it mandatory for all residential buildings to adhere to the 2012 IECC building codes while also requiring all commercial buildings to comply with ASHRAE’s Standard 90.1-2010. Utility companies like Commonwealth Edison, owned by Alliance Associate Exelon, have played a leadership role in driving energy efficiency in Illinois, helping customers in save significant amounts of energy through programs that offer smart meters, rebates for energy efficient appliances and home energy assessments.
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.