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In floor remarks, Shaheen touts bipartisan legislation as Senate considers proceeding to energy efficiency legislation

(Washington, DC) – Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) spoke on the Senate floor this evening to tout her energy efficiency legislation that will create jobs, save consumers and taxpayers money, and reduce pollution by lowering energy consumption across the country.  The Senate will move to full debate on the bill in September. 

Shaheen’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are included below.

I rise today to discuss the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S.1392), also known as Shaheen-Portman. This bill, which I co-authored with Senator Rob Portman, represents more than three years of meetings, negotiations and broad stakeholder outreach in an effort to craft the most effective piece of energy legislation with the greatest chance of passing both chambers of Congress and being signed into law.

Shaheen-Portman is a bipartisan effort that reflects an affordable approach to boost the use of energy efficiency technologies. It will help create private-sector jobs, save businesses and consumers money, reduce pollution and make our country more energy independent.

Shaheen-Portman will have a swift and measurable benefit to our economy and our environment.  A study by experts at the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy found that last year’s version would have saved consumers $4 billion by 2020 and helped businesses add 80,000 jobs to the economy.  It would also cut carbon-dioxide emissions by the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road.

Simply put, the United States needs a comprehensive national energy policy.  We are overly dependent on foreign oil and overly reliant on an outdated energy infrastructure.  This situation harms American businesses and gives our overseas competitors an advantage. 

We have to utilize a wide range of energy sources, including natural gas, oil, nuclear and renewables like wind, biomass and solar.  This will give us a stronger and more stable economy.

However, we can’t just focus on supply.  We also need to address how we consume the energy once we have it.

Efficiency is the cheapest and fastest approach to reduce our energy use. .  Energy saving techniques and technologies lower costs and free up capital that allows businesses to expand and our economy to grow.

We can start improving our efficiency now by installing ready and proven technologies such as modern heating and cooling systems, smart meters, computer-controlled thermostats and low-energy lighting.  There are substantial opportunities that exist across all sectors of our economy to conserve energy and create good-paying private sector jobs.

In fact, there are countless examples of energy efficiency success stories in the private sector, both in my home state of New Hampshire and across the country.

I’ve visited small retail businesses, manufacturing companies, ski areas, apartment complexes and municipal buildings throughout New Hampshire.  They are all using energy efficient technologies to lower costs, improved working condition and stay competitive.

For example, I had the opportunity not too long ago to visit a company on the seacoast of New Hampshire called High Liner Foods, a seafood processing plant that requires a substantial amount of energy to operate.  In fact, at one point, the 180,000 square foot facility consumed roughly 2 megawatts of power at any given time during normal operations.  Next to the costs of personnel and fish, energy was their biggest expense.   By installing efficient lighting, new boilers and various demand response techniques like adjusting its lighting to dim when no employees are present and establishing HVAC set points, High Liner Foods is making great strides in reducing energy consumption, which allows them to expand their footprint in the state and be more cost effective in their production.

This week, I visited the first LEED-certified auto dealership in New Hampshire.  Grappone Toyota has implemented a number of effective, energy efficient intitiatives to cute their energy costs, including the installation of solar panels, efficient lighting and an energy dashboard to monitor energy use throughout their entire facility.

There are also companies that are producing energy efficiency technologies.  We have a company in New Hampshire called Warner Power that has made the first breakthrough in transformers in over 100 years.  Studies show that inefficiencies in transformers result in a loss of five percent of all electricity generated in the United States.   With the wide-scale use of Warner Power’s transformer and their control system technology, the company estimates that 1.5 percent of all transformer energy losses could be eliminated.  This would save the country 60 terawatts of electricity per year, which is equal to 5 times New Hampshire’s entire annual electricity consumption.

Energy efficiency has emerged as an excellent example of a bipartisan and affordable opportunity to immediately grow our economy and improve energy security. Importantly, in addition to being affordable, efficiency is widely supported because its benefits aren’t confined to a certain fuel source or a particular region of the country.   It is clearly one of the great policy areas where we can really come to common agreement.

It is no wonder that Shaheen-Portman enjoys such large and diverse support.  It has received more than 250 endorsements from a wide range of businesses, environmental groups, think tanks and trade associations, from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufactures (NAM) to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).  These are the types of non-traditional alliances that have helped us get this bill on the floor.

Shaheen-Portman provides a bipartisan roadmap to create and implement a national strategy to increase the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors of our economy. 

Senator Portman and I worked with diverse groups to craft this year’s bill.  While crafting this year’s bill, we maintained a transparent and open process where all stakeholders had a meaningful opportunity to comment on existing and proposed provisions and to suggest substantive additions.

Using this process of coalition building, we were able to find common ground on a number of important provisions, including commercial and residential building efficiency codes, workforce training and language that aims to create more robust public-private partnerships between DOE’s Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) and industrial energy consumers.

Shaheen-Portman provides incentives and support, not mandates, for residential and commercial buildings in order to cut energy use.  This is important because buildings consume nearly 40 percent of all energy in the United States.  The bill:

  • Strengthens voluntary national model building codes to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient while working with states and private industry to make the code-writing process more transparent; and
  • Trains the next generation of workers in energy-efficient commercial building design and operation through university-based Building Training and Research Assessment Centers.

Shaheen-Portman assists our industrial manufacturing sector, which consumes more energy than any other sector of the U.S. economy, in implementing energy efficient production technologies. 

The bill:

  • Directs the Department of Energy to work closely with private sector industrial partners to encourage research, development and commercialization of innovative energy efficient technology and processes for industrial applications;
  • Helps businesses reduce energy costs and become more competitive by incentivizing the use of more energy efficient electric motors and transformers; and
  • Establishes a DOE voluntary program – SupplySTAR – modeled on the successful Energy Star program to help make companies’ supply chains more efficient.

Shaheen-Portman requires the federal government, the single largest user of energy in the country, to adopt more efficient building standards and smart metering technology. The bill:

  • Requires the federal government to adopt energy saving technologies and operations for computers; and
  • Allows federal agencies to use existing funds to update plans for new federal buildings, using the most current building efficiency standards.

Senator Portman and I are committed to offsetting spending in the bill by reallocating authorizations from existing programs.  Our legislation is fully offset.  With the support of Chairman Wyden and Raking Member Murkowski, Shaheen-Portman passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June with a broad bipartisan vote of 19-3.

Shaheen-Portman is bipartisan, affordable and widely supported; most importantly, it’s an effective first-step to begin addressing our nation’s very real energy needs. I thank my good friend, Senator Portman, for his partnership in bringing this bill to the floor, and I thank the Majority and Minority Leaders, as well as Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Murkowski, for their support.