Over the course of the Obama administration we have heard how the President is working to ensure a better and cleaner energy future for America. Now that we are about to embark on the last part of his presidential term we are seeing the wheels beginning to turn. In the past 3 months we have seen much progress in when it comes to bipartisan bills making their way through the House and the Senate, but what do these bills actually mean for the energy efficiency industry in the long run?
One of the first bills passed this year was S.535. This bill was brought to the floor by Senators Portman and Shaheen and includes three energy efficiency provisions. Those provisions include promoting commercial energy benchmarking and disclosure, a Tenant Star program as well as improved efficiency standards for grid connected water heaters. The first provision of promoting commercial energy benchmarking goes hand in hand with what the California Energy Commission, CEC, is already working toward in the state with the passage of AB 1103. Assembly Bill 1103 focusing on having all commercial buildings within the state of California are benchmarked if the building owner intends to lease, sale or lend. The second provisions of launching a Tenant Star program can piggy back off of the EPA’s Energy Star Certification of commercial buildings. This program only differs by reaching out to multi-family units to show how they can improve their energy efficiency, since this has been a neglected sector on energy savings. All items stated in the bill are building blocks for programs that are already being implemented in different parts of the US. Though this bill does not have specifics on energy efficiency it focuses on the ground floor of getting others interested in the topic.
The second bill is one that has only been introduced to Congress S. 720.[i] This bill focuses on innovative energy savings for American manufacturers. The meat of this bill will have the Department of Energy (DOE) working to develop smart manufacturing plans that can assist small and medium sized manufacturers. Items that fall under smart manufacturing for this bill are information and communications technology that help achieve superior control and productivity. With increased control and productivity there are a lot of energy savings to be had for manufacturers. Studies have shown that the manufacturing industry can shave off as much as $18 billion in energy costs by reducing energy use by just 10%.[ii]
Too many this read may seem like a boring law class on bills going through the house and senate. But to those that are true energy efficiency fans we are applauding our government for taking notice of the importance of energy efficiency. We hope that this is a start to a greener energy future!
[i] “On the road to bipartisan energy efficiency legislation,” Apr., 30, 2015, http://aceee.org/blog/2015/04/road-bipartisan-energy-efficiency