House Dem bullish on 'major' energy efficiency bill

Tonko said Tuesday’s hearing struck a tone amenable to both Democrats and Republicans by discussing private-sector solutions the public sector could implement.

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Some of those options, such as energy savings performance contracts, already have bipartisan backing.

Those agreements call on private firms to make energy-efficiency upgrades for the federal government. Those firms get reimbursed through the energy savings from those renovations.

House Republicans also have expressed optimism about passing more comprehensive energy efficiency legislation to build on some momentum from the end of last session.

In the last weeks of the 112th Congress, the House and the Senate passed some energy efficiency bills that became laws, though they were minor in scope.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee had backed a heftier bill last session. It never got to the floor, though it likely would have run into roadblocks with House Republicans.

The Senate has indicated it wants to give more ambitious energy efficiency legislation another try during this Congress.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the Senate Energy Committee’s ranking member, said she thinks her committee can make progress on the issue.

Murkowski appeared at Tuesday’s House hearing, saying in written testimony that energy efficiency is “an area where agreement is eminently possible.”