Make energy efficiency part of US policy

Over the past couple weeks, we’ve witnessed significant progress for energy efficiency policy. The recent passing of the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014 (HR 2126, means provisions for energy savings, benchmarking and overall efficiency in commercial and federal buildings are just a legislative process away from becoming the law—and we hope the progress doesn’t stop there.

By highlighting this easy win for energy efficiency policy, we’d like to call attention to how this process can be replicated with the larger piece of energy efficiency legislation waiting to hit the floor—the bi-partisan energy bill from Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) that would truly indoctrinate energy efficiency into U.S. policy.

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The senators have again updated and strengthened their legislation in the hopes of propelling the revised energy bill through the Senate after the former version was stalled late last year. Now called S 2074, the bill includes provisions that not only enhance the strong foundation set by the senators in May 2011, but incorporate initiatives that would yield significant economic, energy and environmental benefits for this country by 2030. Projected benefits include nearly $100 billion in savings, the creation of 192,000 new jobs and a reduction of about 650 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, which is the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road.  

Our hope is that these provisions and the promises they hold for the U.S. represent the final effort needed to secure enough votes to clear the Senate. The amendments bring a broader reach to the bill with expanded energy efficiency provisions, including retrofitting assistance for schools and low income housing, strengthened initiatives in commercial buildings, additional energy strategies for federal buildings (related to data centers, water heaters and mortgage rates) and third party certification and testing. We fully support the latest provisions to the Shaheen Portman bill and urge Congress to pass the legislation with no further amendments that would cloud its clear purpose -- commonsense energy savings and job creation.
 
We applaud the tireless efforts of Shaheen and Portman to work with their fellow legislators to maintain the bi-partisan nature of the bill through its many iterations, and we commend their dedication to bringing S 2074 to life. Let's not forget that this important legislation has been put before Congress several times over the past three years. The President has made his commitment to energy efficiency clear in recent addresses, and it’s time Congress makes its commitment clear and gives the Shaheen Portman bill its due as one of our country’s most effective means of achieving savings, creating jobs and benefitting the environment. By failing to prioritize energy efficiency, Congress is truly doing a great disservice to the American people.  
 
Now more than ever, our elected officials need to create opportunities to enhance the country’s economy, and energy efficiency represents the bi-partisan economic win we need.

Pauley is senior vice president for External Affairs and Government Relations at Schneider Electric.