House passes bill on energy efficiency

The House passed a bipartisan package on Wednesday intended to up energy efficiency in homes and federal agencies.

The legislation, authored by Reps. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and David McKinley (R-W.Va.), aims to boost energy conservation with a program called Tenant Star, which provides incentives to landlords and tenants who up their energy savings.

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The package, which passed 375-36, also promotes energy efficiency in federal agencies under a provision added by Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.)

"I have long believed that energy efficiency is an area of common ground in this divided Congress,” Welch said during floor debate Tuesday on the bill.

“Saving energy creates jobs, saves money and improves the environment. We have disagreements on the causes of climate change and the best fuel mix to meet America’s energy demands, but we can all agree that using less is more," he said.

Welch's bill overlaps with the Senate's energy efficiency bill, co-authored by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).

Welch believes the passage of the energy-efficiency package in the House "provides a clear path to conference," with the Shaheen-Portman efficiency legislation, according to an aide.

Shaheen and Portman reintroduced a new, refined bill last week, after an earlier version stalled in September, when debates about the Affordable Care Act and the Keystone XL pipeline sidetracked the legislation.

"With energy efficiency, we have the fastest, most cost-effective way to address our energy needs, all the while creating jobs and growing our economy," Shaheen said in a statement following passage of the House bill on Wednesday. "I'm eager to build on the bipartisan momentum from the House and work with my colleagues in the Senate to pass my energy-efficiency bill with Senator Portman."

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