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Bi-partisan legislation could save the economy billions

(Washington, D.C.) — Noting the need for immediate action on U.S. energy policy and for policies that encourage job growth and keep our economy competitive, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) today introduced bipartisan legislation that would enact a national energy efficiency strategy.

The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 contains a broad package of low-cost tools that would reduce barriers for businesses, homeowners and consumers looking to adopt off-the-shelf energy efficiency technologies that will save them money. With a host of mature technologies already in widespread use — such as better insulation, computer-controlled thermostats, and more efficient electric motors — energy efficiency is the cheapest and fastest approach available to improving our nation’s energy infrastructure and our economy’s energy independence.

“To keep our economy competitive, we must be as aggressive as our rivals in adapting to the global economy,” Shaheen said. “Action on our energy policy can’t wait for another election, or for a different Senate. And it doesn’t have to. A national energy efficiency strategy, like the one we are introducing today, can make our economy more competitive, start addressing our nation’s energy challenges and create private sector jobs today. It is effective, it is bipartisan, and it is affordable.”

“This is a bipartisan effort to advance energy efficiency, one of the quickest and most affordable ways to lower energy costs for employers and consumers,” Portman said. “By making it easier for employers to utilize energy efficient tools, they can reduce costs, enabling them to use the savings to expand their companies and hire new workers. As the fourth largest manufacturing state in the country, Ohio’s economy will benefit greatly from this pro jobs energy efficiency legislation.”

U.S. commercial and residential buildings combined consume 40 percent of all energy used, while the U.S. industrial sector consumes more energy than any other sector of our economy. The federal government is the largest single energy consumer in the country.  The Shaheen-Portman bill targets efficiencies in all three areas at relatively low cost. The legislation embraces a bipartisan approach that includes many widely supported approaches to enabling private investment.  Industry partners have voiced support for the legislation, including the Alliance to Save Energy, a diverse coalition of businesses, government agencies, and advocates for energy efficiency.

Some highlights of the legislation include:

  • Boosts private sector investment in building efficiency upgrades by expanding the Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Guarantee program.
  • Helps manufacturers reduce energy use and become more competitive by working with states to establish a revolving loan program to help finance efficiency upgrades.
  • Provides standards on outdoor lighting, residential heating and cooling systems, residential appliances, and other appliance products based on agreements between manufacturers and efficiency advocates.
  • Works with states to strengthen national model building codes, to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient.
  • Requires the federal government – the single largest energy user in the country -- to adopt energy saving techniques for computers, saving energy and taxpayer dollars, and adopt better building standards and smart metering technology.

“At a time of extremely acrimonious partisanship on Capitol Hill, Sens. Shaheen and Portman have reached bravely across the political divide to help American consumers and businesses that are reeling from rising energy costs,” said Kateri Callahan, President of the Alliance to Save Energy. “The Alliance applauds Sens. Shaheen and Portman for their statesmanship in putting our economy, our energy security and our environment ahead of party politics.  We urge Congress to follow their important lead by enacting the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 as quickly as possible.”

"Federal, state and local budgets are as tight as they have ever been, but energy efficient products and solutions that will be advanced through this important piece of legislation can help government, industry and consumers save energy and millions of dollars, create jobs and spur competitiveness," said Eric Spiegel, president and CEO, Siemens Corp.

“We applaud the leadership of Senators Rob Portman and Jeanne Shaheen whose Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011 will ensure that our nation’s ‘first fuel’ Energy Efficiency is an integral part of national energy policy,” said Tom Quigley, VP and General Manager for Residential Insulation at Owens Corning. “Buildings consume more energy than both the transportation and the industrial sectors.  Energy efficiency in buildings is also a job-creator as many, if not most, of the products and services used to make buildings more energy efficient are U.S. job centric businesses. Virtually all of the insulation that Owens Corning provides for its U.S. customers, including its highly acclaimed bio-based Ecotouch insulation, is manufactured in the U.S. with U.S. provided raw materials, and is delivered, sold and installed by U.S. workers. Increasing energy efficiency in buildings presents a win-win as we implement a sound energy policy while creating sustainable U.S. jobs.”

Sens. Shaheen and Portman, both members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, will seek hearings in committee on the legislation in coming weeks.