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A Good Opening Hearing

The Subcommittee on Energy and Power held its Hearing Tuesday on "American Energy Security and Innovation: An Assessment of Private-Sector Successes and Opportunities in Energy Efficient Technologies." The staff background memo, the witness list, written testimony and other info is here. I only caught portions, as the Hearing lasted 4 hours, and was held concurrently with the CEQ-hosted GreenGov Dialogue on Demand Response.

Even just watching portions, the key message of the Hearing was clear. As Peter Welch (D-Vt) stated it, “There does seem to be strong bipartisan cooperation in leadership on energy efficiency.” An important opening signal in this respect was the lead panel. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Al, and ranking on the E&NR Committee) and Jean Shaheen (D-NH) made the symbolic trekked over from the other side of the Capitol. Both Senators focused on the federal government’s potential role in advancing greater energy efficiency, with Senator Murkowski citing both the policies and recommendations laid out in her recently-released Energy 20/20blueprint, and the pending new Shaheen/Portman bill. Senator Shaheen spoke at the Hearing, and to reporters afterward, on progress being made on this bill, with introduction a few weeks away, and with consultation already having occurred with the House side on what is acceptable. It sounds like the key remaining issue is financing (House Republicans won't accept new mandates or new costs), with Senator Shaheen describing the highlights as:

Buildings: Providing incentives and support (not mandates) for residential and commercial buildings to cut energy use. This is important because buildings consume nearly 40 percent of all energy in the US.

Industrial: Assisting the Mfg sector, which consumes more energy than any other sector of the US economy, implement energy efficient production technologies.

Federal Agency: Requiring the federal government, the single largest user of energy in the country, to adopt more efficient building standards and smart technology.

As for HR 540 (the "Energy Efficient Government Technology Act," introduced by Reps. Eshoo and Rogers), the PG&E testimony included a nice endorsement of the bill, and Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) posed a good question about ESPCs for federal data centers, and got the right answer from the Federal Performance Contracting Coalition witness.

Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-Ky) ended the Hearing by noting that there will be additional Hearings on energy efficiency. It would appear, from this first Hearing, that the benefits of energy efficiency are something that both Republicans and Democrats can agree upon. We'll look to help them not only do so, but to also successfully move to enact useful legislation like the bills cited above. We are particularly hopeful for HR540.

Public Policy Tags: Intelligent Efficiency