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Congress just passed an energy efficiency bill

April 21, 2015

Today, the House of Representatives passed S. 535, a modest energy efficiency bill sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). This follows Senate passage a few weeks ago. The bill now heads to the president’s desk for his approval, which is highly likely.

The bill includes three provisions drawn from a larger efficiency bill sponsored by Portman and Shaheen. The bill has provisions that: (1) promote commercial building energy-use benchmarking and disclosure; (2) establish a voluntary “Tenant Star” program to promote energy efficiency in rental property; and (3) adjust efficiency standards for “grid-connected” water heaters so that water heaters needed for demand response and thermal storage programs can continue to be sold. ACEEE led work on the benchmarking and disclosure provision and played a substantial role in the other provisions, including presenting testimony on the water heater provision before a House committee earlier this month.

The bill will have modest impacts on energy consumption. What is probably most notable is that, in an environment where the political parties can agree on very little, energy efficiency is one of the few issues that generates enough bipartisan support to pass legislation. In fact, the bill passed both the House and Senate by overwhelming margins.

Hopefully this is a harbinger of future energy efficiency bills. For example, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on April 30 on a broader array of energy efficiency bills, and the House Energy and Commerce Committee is expected to hold a similar hearing soon. We congratulate the House and the Senate for recognizing the value that energy efficiency brings to America’s homes and businesses, such as reduced energy bills and a better-functioning electric grid, and we look forward to working with both chambers to create a more energy-efficient nation.

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