Federal Energy Legislation Steaming Along

ACEEE analysis on the energy savings from the Senate and House bills

Congress is on track to pass new energy legislation, only two years after the last federal energy bill. The new legislation will include a major focus on energy efficiency.

In the Senate
In June, the Senate passed an energy bill that includes increased vehicle fuel economy requirements (see related story in this issue); new and revised federal equipment efficiency standards on residential clothes washers, dishwashers, dehumidifiers, and boilers, industrial motors, and incandescent reflector lamps; a variety of reforms to the equipment efficiency standards program; a directive to improve building codes in order to reduce energy use in new buildings by 30% in 2010 and 50% in 2020; and a new program designed to promote green federal and commercial buildings.

The Senate also considered extensions to a variety of energy efficiency tax incentives first passed in 2005, but the provision was successfully filibustered over objections about increased taxes and fees on oil and natural gas. The Senate also considered a combined renewable energy and energy efficiency performance standard, but the provision was not included in the final bill due to successful parliamentary maneuvers by opponents of the provision.

In the House
In the House of Representatives, legislation has been reported out of the Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees and is due to be voted on the House floor later this month. The House legislation is similar in many respects to the Senate bill but does not include any vehicle fuel economy improvements, does include some efficiency tax incentives (extensions to the commercial buildings and appliance incentives), and does contain additional equipment efficiency provisions not in the Senate bill (e.g. standards on general service incandescent lamps and external power supplies, and authorization for DOE to set regional standards on heating and cooling equipment). Amendments may be introduced on the House floor to add in vehicle fuel economy requirements and renewable energy (and perhaps energy efficiency) performance requirements.

Read the ACEEE analysis on the energy savings from the Senate and House bills. Following House action, a conference committee will be formed to work out differences between the two bills. Final passage is likely in the fall.

ACEEE has played a leading role in helping to craft the efficiency standards in both bills. We have also been active in the fuel economy, tax incentive, and energy efficiency performance standards debates.