Bipartisan Energy Bill Would Increase Energy Efficiency of Appliances, Buildings, Vehicles; Permanently Authorize ‘ESPCs’ | Alliance to Save Energy

Bipartisan Energy Bill Would Increase Energy Efficiency of Appliances, Buildings, Vehicles; Permanently Authorize ‘ESPCs’

Release Date: Thursday, May 3, 2007

Washington, D.C., May 3, 2007 – The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s bipartisan energy bill would make important strides towards increasing the nation’s energy efficiency, the Alliance to Save Energy said today. The bill, passed by a large bipartisan majority, is headed for a vote by the full Senate within the next few weeks. While building on the foundation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, this bill also includes a number of key provisions that would fill gaps in the earlier legislation, the Alliance said.

The Alliance was involved in developing an amendment by Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Larry Craig (R-Idaho), adopted by the committee, authorizing a commercial building initiative – a new research, development, and deployment program to develop “zero-energy” commercial buildings. The program would be run by the U.S. Department of Energy in collaboration with an industry consortium.

The agreement, when combined with additional appliance efficiency standards for refrigerators and clothes washers, could increase total 30-year savings to nearly 15 quads of energy and 68 million acre feet of water. The specific efficiency levels for refrigerators and clothes washers will be determined by DOE and will depend on cost-benefit and other analyses. Total cumulative utility bill savings could be as high as $68 billion. (68 million acre feet would meet the annual water needs of about 272 million people; 3.3 quads would meet one year’s energy needs for about 70 percent of the U.S. population.)

The bill would codify in law new consensus energy-efficiency standards for residential boilers, dishwashers, clothes washers, refrigerators, dehumidifiers, and electric motors – standards that the Alliance helped to negotiate.

Notably, the bill would permanently authorize the Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) program, which allows private-sector financing of energy-efficiency upgrades to federal buildings. The program operates at no cost to taxpayers, with contractors paid with the money saved from reduced building energy costs.

The bill would codify targets from a recent Executive Order requiring a 30 percent reduction in energy use in existing federal buildings by 2015 and require new federal buildings to meet standards for reducing fossil fuel use, with the eventual goal of eliminating fossil fuel consumption in new buildings by 2030.

In the transportation area, the bill sets aggressive national goals for reducing gasoline use by 20 percent by 2017, 35 percent by 2025 and 45 percent by 2030 and requires federal fleets of civilian vehicles to reduce petroleum consumption by 20 percent by 2016.

The bill would also amend the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to authorize the secretary of energy to issue loan guarantees for facilities that manufacture parts for fuel-efficient vehicles.

On the appliance standards alone, the bill would provide the following savings:

  • Electricity: At least 50 billion kilowatt hours per year, or enough to power roughly 4.8 million typical U.S. households;
  • Natural gas: 170 million therms per year, or enough to heat about a quarter million typical U.S. homes;
  • Water: At least 560 million gallons per day, or about 1.3 percent of total daily potable water usage; and
  • Dollars: More than $12 billion in net present benefits for consumers.

“The Alliance sees this bipartisan bill as a critical step in moving our nation towards a more energy-secure future,” said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. “Recent polls indicate that 70 percent of the American people want Congress to take action to address climate change,” she added, “and enacting legislation to advance energy efficiency is the cheapest, cleanest and quickest way to make a meaningful start.”

“The Alliance to Save Energy is proud to be part of the forward-looking coalition of manufacturers and efficiency advocates whose landmark agreement on higher energy and water efficiency standards, as well as tax incentives to make major appliances more affordable, will save consumers energy and money and help curb the polluting emissions that contribute to climate change,” said Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan. “Minimum efficiency standards pay dividends for years to come by establishing base energy-efficiency levels for newly manufactured products and by locking in savings for the considerable lifespan of products such as clothes washers and dishwashers. They also push the U.S. economy, on a continuing basis, towards greater energy efficiency.”

“We look forward to working with the Energy Committee and the full Senate on additional energy-efficiency measures to improve national model building energy codes and to allow different efficiency standards for heating and cooling equipment in different climate regions,” Callahan continued.

“We also look forward to working with other congressional committees to add critical extensions and improvements to tax incentives for efficient new homes, home improvements, commercial buildings, appliances, and vehicles, and to add provisions on vehicle efficiency and federal building efficiency,” Callahan said.