When Congress reconvenes this month, the Senate will debate the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act (S. 1392), introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D–NH) and Rob Portman (R–OH).
The proponents and opponents of the bill are lining up their arguments.
Nicolas Loris with the Heritage Foundation questions why taxpayers should spend $200 million to “incentivize and assist” states to meet energy efficiency codes and for the Department of Energy to provide technical assistance.
In Loris’ opinion, many companies have concerns about spending their own money on energy efficiency upgrades because they worry the cost of the upfront investment might not be recouped by energy savings. But they’ll be happy to accept money from the government to perform upgrades.
“Why should enormous companies such as Dow Chemical, LyondellBasell, and Air Products and Chemicals receive taxpayer money to improve energy efficiency?” asks Loris. “Companies should have the ability to leverage the expertise at the Department of Energy and National Institute for Standards and Technology to invest in new industrial processes that save energy and money, but the cost of those activities should be paid completely by the private sector.”
Meanwhile, groups such as the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) claim the legislation has the potential to save consumers and businesses over $65 billion on their energy bills by 2030, an in addition to providing economic benefits, the provisions would prevent unnecessary electric generation and natural gas consumption. Energy savings from these provisions would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 676 million metric tons by 2030, says ACEEE. The group has published a white paper outlining the benefits.
“Manufacturers support the Shaheen-Portman bill, a set of common-sense, bipartisan energy efficiency measures that would create jobs by saving energy in industrial, commercial, and residential sectors,” said Ross Eisenberg, vice-president of energy and resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “As users of one-third of our nation’s energy, manufacturers are directly affected by the cost of energy, and we believe policies should promote research, development, and deployment of energy-efficient technologies.”