Two energy efficiency bills introduced last year received bipartisan support in the House and Senate, but received limited attention at the time. The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011, introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), contains a variety of provisions intended to increase energy efficiency in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors. The Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreement Act of 2011, introduced by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), which would establish new and revised efficiency standards for a variety of household and commercial appliances.
A white paper from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) reports that the bills are expected to be combined on the Senate floor this year. ACEEE’s paper notes that the acts could be implemented over their lifetime with “insignificant” appropriations – $600 million over the 2012-30 period – and provides an analysis of their benefits in terms of jobs created, net annual consumer savings, and avoided greenhouse gas emissions.
While the analysis shows “important but modest” energy savings for consumers, a possible net increase in American jobs, and over 130 million metric tons in avoided greenhouse gas emissions, the paper concludes that “these bills are only an initial down-payment on needed policy steps to maximize use of cost-effective energy efficiency resources to benefit the U.S. economy,” and that a “highly-politicized” 112th congress impeded or blocked the passage of other important energy efficiency bills.
ACEEE calls for the 113th congress to put forward policy that would set energy savings targets for utilities through some form of energy efficiency or clean energy standard, tax reform that would remove impediments to investments in energy efficiency, and establishing a price for greenhouse gases.
How important is energy efficiency to America’s energy future? What are the prospects for federal energy efficiency legislation in this and the next Congress?