National policies to improve energy efficiency help ensure that the U.S. is using its energy resources most effectively, thereby saving billions of dollars for taxpayers and consumers, while also creating jobs, improving energy reliability, and bettering our environment. ACEEE acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies and has played a role in helping shape some of largest energy bills Congress has passed into law. Below are some of the bills we have analyzed and contributed to that have become law over the last 20 years.
American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012—Public Law 112-240
On January 1, 2013, the American Taxpayer Relief Act (Public Law 112-240) was passed to avert income tax increases for Americans and large cuts in spending for government programs. The law contains extensions for energy efficiency tax incentives that had expired at the end of 2011, including tax credits for energy efficiency upgrades to existing homes purchased in 2012 and 2013. These residential tax credits cover up to 10% of the cost of energy-efficient new central air conditioners, heat pumps, water heaters, windows, insulation, ENERGY STAR metal roofs, and other products that meet minimum efficiency levels. The credit is capped at $50–500 depending on the type of equipment installed.
A new homes credit was also included providing an incentive to builders for new homes that reduce energy use relative to the IECC-2006 building code by at least 50%. This is a change from prior law that used the IECC-2003 as a base. In addition, an appliance credit provides an incentive to manufacturers for increased production of very efficient refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers. These credits had several efficiency tiers in 2011; for 2012-2013, only the higher efficiency tiers remain.
For more detailed information, see the Tax Incentives Assistance Project (TIAP) website.
To read more about these tax credits, see ACEEE’s blog post.
American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act—H.R. 6582
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Energy Manufacturing Technical Corrections Act (Public Law 112-210, formerly H.R.6582) by a vote of 398–2 on December 4, 2012. The U.S. Senate passed it by unanimous consent on December 6, 2012. The bill was introduced by Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) but it included energy efficiency provisions from two other Senate bills:
- The Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act of 2011 (INCAAA) (S. 398) introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM); and
- The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.1000) introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH).
The Act includes appliance efficiency standard updates, an industrial efficiency provision, and federal agency energy efficiency provisions. The bill makes a number of technical corrections to equipment efficiency standards previously enacted by Congress, helping to make the program function better. In addition, the bill includes provisions to better coordinate industrial research and development activities among government agencies, reduce barriers to deployment of industrial energy efficiency, promote best practices for advanced metering among government agencies, and improve data collection for federal energy and water management efforts.
For more information, see ACEEE’s press release.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes the single largest investment in energy efficiency in history with approximately $17 billion specifically for efficiency. The Recovery Act was designed to be a multi-year program — the first year providing fast-acting emergency relief, tax, and infrastructure measures and the following years offering energy programs that will underpin long-term economic growth. A large proportion of the stimulus funds related to energy efficiency will go to state and municipalities, each of which will handle program development and design individually. The law was passed and signed by President Barack Obama in February 2009.
The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) was passed in response to high energy prices and growing concerns for climate change. The laws included several energy efficiency provisions: Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards; Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards; Lamp Efficiency Standards; Regional Standards; Industrial Efficiency Programs; Combined Heat and Power, Recycled Energy and District Energy; and Commercial Building Initiative. The law was passed and signed by President George W. Bush in December 2007.
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005) changed United States energy policy by providing tax incentives and loan guarantees for various types of energy production, primarily innovations that avoid greenhouse gases such as nuclear power, biofuels, clean coal initiatives, wind and other renewable energy sources, tidal power, geothermal power, and others. For energy efficiency, the bill established a number of energy management goals for Federal facilities and fleets. It also amended portions of the National Energy Conservation Policy Act (NECPA) and established minimum efficiency standards for 15 products. The law was passed and signed by President George W. Bush in June 2005.
The Energy Policy Act of 1992 (EPAct 1992) sought to comprehensively address U.S. energy needs, including an energy efficiency title that included several energy efficiency provisions. The bill consisted of twenty-seven titles detailing various measures designed to lessen the nation's dependence on imported energy, provide incentives for clean and renewable energy, and promote energy conservation in buildings. EPAct 1992 included energy efficiency provisions such as building energy efficiency standards, equipment energy efficiency standards (including motor standards), residential energy efficiency ratings, regional lighting and building centers, federal energy management, electric and gas utility regulatory reform, least-cost planning for federal electric utilities, and energy efficiency R&D, among others. The law was passed and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1992 and major revisions were passed in 2005 and 2007.