Energy efficiency programs across the country offer energy and cost savings for consumers and support thousands of jobs. The reduction in CO2 emissions achieved from energy efficiency may also count toward compliance with forthcoming EPA regulations aimed at reducing CO2 emissions from power plants. Earlier this year, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources overwhelmingly passed the “The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013,” S. 761. The bill was introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D – N.H.) and Rob Portman (R – Ohio) to encourage greater use of energy efficiency technologies in residential, commercial and industrial buildings, and foster new job creation. The Senators introduced S. 1392, a revised version of S. 761, for consideration on the Senate floor at the end of July. It was subsequently removed from the Senate calendar, however, to make room for the budget and debt ceiling discussions. With those issues temporarily resolved, energy watchers are looking for the Senate to put the bill back on the calendar.
Major provisions of the Shaheen-Portman bill include: directing the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop model building codes to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient; assistance to states to develop and adopt codes that exceed the model codes; authorizing DOE to provide grants to universities for career training in the design and operation of energy efficient buildings; revision of industrial efficiency programs at DOE to promote efficient manufacturing technology; establishment of the Supply Star program to identify and promote practices, companies and products that use highly energy efficient supply chains; and guidance to federal agencies on adopting energy efficiency protocols.