Senate energy efficiency bill omissions designed to get House support

“Our amendment, while not everything we wanted, takes some reasonable and commonsense steps to ensure the federal government is coordinating with industrial manufacturers in developing and deploying industrial efficiency technologies, and places additional energy efficiency requirements on the federal government that will ultimately save money for the U.S. taxpayer,” Portman said in a statement Monday.

The amendment was tacked onto H.R. 4850, which would update energy efficiency standards for products ranging from walk-in freezers to covered water heaters. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent, which could set it up for either a House floor vote or a conference committee.

The newer edition largely emphasizes increased collaboration between the federal government and industrial sector to enhance energy efficiency. It also expands energy efficiency efforts at federal facilities.

The amended bill does not contain any authorizations or new efficiency standards called for in the original version.

That likely helped the bill play better with conservatives who are wary about expanding spending and adding regulations, Floyd DesChamps, senior vice president of policy and research with the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), told The Hill on Monday.

“I think the main concern was putting together a package that would be acceptable by the House,” DesChamps said.

The lighter bill dropped language that would have boosted energy efficiency requirements in national building codes for new homes and commercial buildings.

It also scrapped a plan to expand Energy Department loan guarantees to efficiency retrofits and a loan program that would have employed states to encourage efficiency upgrades in the manufacturing sector.

The amended Shaheen-Portman measure moves in the direction of a version sponsored by Reps. Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) and Jim Matheson (D-Utah).

Bass said in a statement Monday that he will work toward getting a House vote on energy efficiency legislation this session.

“I congratulate both Senator Shaheen and Senator Portman for their leadership on this issue," Bass said. "This is a positive step toward improving our nation’s energy efficiency and is reflective of efforts that we have championed in the Senate and House, respectively."

The ASE, which was instrumental in getting support for the Shaheen-Portman bill, also backed the Bass-Matheson legislation as a lighter version aimed at getting House GOP approval.

DesChamps said ASE had not settled on a preferred bill, but that it would still work to get elements eliminated from the original Shaheen-Portman bill through Congress.

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