The Shaheen-Portman bill was just reintroduced to the Senate. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will review the bill, which is sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness (ESIC) Act is tweaked from the last iteration, removing some spending provisions, including an expansion of a federal loan guarantee program for energy efficiency projects and a revolving state grant program, according to The Hill.
The new draft instead calls for state-based commercial energy-efficiency programs that leverage private financing.
Some of the elements of the previous bill were included in a manufacturing efficiency bill that was passed in December. The provisions were more research-based, such as asking the DOE to examine barriers to energy efficiency in the industrial sector and to identify best practices for advanced metering. It also called for federal facilities to track energy and water consumption.
The Shaheen-Portman bill goes much further to drive efficiency for homes and businesses. The provisions include strengthening energy-efficiency requirements in building codes, making supply chains more efficient, requiring efficiency measures in the federal government and encouraging energy-efficiency upgrades at industrial facilities.
Sens. Shaheen and Portman have worked to put together bipartisan support for the bill, along with endorsements from more than 200 businesses, trade associations and environmental groups. Of course, even a topic as benign as energy efficiency is likely to face fierce partisanship in the 113th Congress, despite data that shows efficiency increases productivity.
At the same time the bill is being reintroduced, an Obama administration official will defend the budget proposal for the Department of Energy during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, according to The Hill.
The budget includes $200 million for a performance-based fund for smart grid and efficiency-related programs, similar to the “Race to the Top” in the education sector.
Obama has identified energy efficiency as a priority in his second term, calling for the U.S. to cut its energy consumption in half in the next two decades.