House approves bill easing energy efficiency rules

While bills easing energy-related regulations have been divisive this year, both Republicans and Democrats said they could support the bill.

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"This bill will reduce regulatory burdens and provide greater certainty for manufacturers, allowing them to stay in business, avoid layoffs and will also ensure the continued benefits of energy savings and consumer savings because of increased energy efficiency," Rep. Ed. Whitfield (R-Ky.) said.

"This bill will not produce large energy savings, but it's a worthwhile package of consensus improvements," Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said.

The bill includes several provisions from a Senate bill sponsored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Some of the measures approved in the House bill include establishing best practices for “smart” electric meters in the federal government, as well as setting federal energy management and data collection standards.

Energy efficiency lobby group the Alliance to Save Energy has pushed hard for the Shaheen-Portman bill, S. 1000, and is still trying to secure a vote on the full bill during the lame duck session.

Shaheen told The Hill on Tuesday that she would “continue to do everything” to call the bill during the lame duck, but noted, “the challenge is finding the time.”

The Senate has passed parts of Shaheen-Portman in other bills, but without many of the provisions the lobby group and congressional Democrats desire most.

The Alliance to Save Energy has said it felt the Senate stripped some of those measures because they would not gain enough traction in the Republican-controlled House.

Still, Tuesday’s House vote indicated progress is possible on energy efficiency, Alliance to Save Energy President Kateri Callahan said in a statement.

“When we joined with Sens. Shaheen and Portman a year and a half ago to launch their bill, many doubted that Congress had the will to take up energy efficiency legislation. Today’s House action demonstrates that energy efficiency can bridge the bipartisan divide,” Callahan said.

With the single vote, the House completed its work for the day, and then moved to speeches and was set to return Wednesday for work on more suspension bills.

One of those bills is H.R. 5817, which would allow banks and credit unions to only report their data privacy policies to customers when those policies change, as opposed to every year as they are now required to do. Members debated that bill Monday and could have voted on it today, but may now vote on Wednesday.

— This story was updated at 4:07 p.m.

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