Energy Efficiency in Senate Bills will Make US Economy Healthier – But One Bill Contains a Poison Pill

July 30, 2015

Today the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted out two bills—one shepherded by Energy and Natural Resources Committee chair, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) (the Energy Policy Modernization Act), and the other written by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) (the Energy Efficiency and Industrial Competitiveness Act, S. 720).

“ACEEE strongly supports the Portman-Shaheen bill because it contains many useful provisions that will advance energy efficiency in the US” said ACEEE executive director Steven Nadel. “However, we cannot support the Murkowski bill, even though it contains some useful provisions, because it contains a ‘poison pill’ that undermines collaboration and impedes progress on energy efficiency,” he continued.

The Portman-Shaheen bill in particular contains provisions that will advance building energy codes in the country and incorporate the impact of reduced energy bills in mortgage underwriting decisions on efficient homes.

The Murkowski bill contains the same provision to advance building energy codes, but not the provision to consider energy efficiency in mortgage underwriting. The Murkowski bill does contain several useful additional provisions that will promote smart manufacturing and smart buildings, which save energy through advanced information systems and controls. However, the Murkowski bill also contains a very contentious provision that would override two previous agreements (one in court, one in the House of Representatives) on when new furnace efficiency standards can be finalized, substantially delaying the rule, even though the current standard has not changed significantly since it was enacted in 1987. This provision instead sets up a process that is more likely to fan the flames of disagreement rather than lead to a consensus outcome. “For several decades, Congress has only advanced energy efficiency provisions that have broad support and avoided fanning controversy. Unfortunately, the ‘Energy Policy Modernization Act’ violates this principle. We hope that comity will prevail and this provision will be changed on the Senate floor,” concluded Nadel.

 

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.