News & Insights  |  Newsletters

Major Senate Bill on Energy Efficiency Introduced Again

March 2014

“Once more into the breach, dear friends, once more... .”

        Shakespeare, Henry V, Act III

Buckling on their armor yet again, Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) have once more introduced their far-reaching energy efficiency proposal and are fighting for its prompt passage.

The current version, introduced on February 27, is the 135-page SB 2074, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2014 (ESIC).  Their earlier version, SB 1392, foundered in late 2013 due to tussles over potential amendments (and focus on fiscal issues)—despite bipartisan congressional, White House, industry, and environmental support.  The senators have now revised the text of SB 1392 to add several sweeteners intended to garner enough support to secure cloture.  Cosponsors include Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), chair of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  A companion bill, HR 1616, is pending in the House, and the House may well move forward if SB 2074 passes.

SB 2074 contains provisions of interest to industry, including the following:

  • The bill would establish a Supply Star program in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to help increase efficiency of companies' supply chains.  DOE is to coordinate with the successful Energy Star program.  The goal of the new program would be “to identify and promote practices, recognize companies, and, as appropriate, recognize products that use highly efficient supply chains in a manner that conserves energy, water, and other resources.”  DOE may award grants or other forms of incentives.
  • To reduce burden on industry, DOE and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would be required to revise the Energy Star program's certification and verification requirements for electronic products for program partners that have complied with all program requirements for at least 18 months.  Those partners would not be required to have third-party certification in order to have a product listed.  This exemption would terminate if the partner is found to have violated program requirements with respect to at least two separate models during a two-year period.  A termination would cease if the partner complies with all Energy Star requirements for at least three years.
  • DOE and EPA would be required to rely on qualified, nationally recognized voluntary certification programs for air-conditioning, furnace, boiler, heat pump, and water heating products to verify performance, provide annual reports, and maintain a publicly available list of certified models.
  • DOE would be required to establish a program to provide rebates for expenditures made by entities for the purchase and installation of a new constant speed electric motor control that reduces motor energy use by no less than 5%; and for commercial and industrial equipment and machinery that is manufactured and incorporates an advanced motor and drive system meeting certain criteria.  DOE would also establish a program under which rebates are provided for expenditures made for the purchase and installation of new energy-efficient transformers.
  • DOE would participate in efforts to harmonize global specifications and metrics for data center energy efficiency, and in the development of an efficiency metric that measures the energy efficiency of the overall data center.  It would also establish an open-data initiative, in collaboration with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), to increase the energy efficiency of federal data centers.
  • OMB and other federal agencies would be required to collaborate to develop an implementation strategy (including best practices and measurement and verification techniques) for the maintenance, purchase, and use by the agencies of energy-efficient and energy-saving information technologies.
  • On the request of a manufacturer, DOE would conduct on-site technical assessments to identify opportunities for maximizing the energy efficiency of industrial processes and cross-cutting systems; preventing pollution and minimizing waste; improving efficient use of water in manufacturing processes; improving efficient use of water in manufacturing; conserving natural resources; and achieving other goals determined by DOE to be appropriate.
  • The bill calls for enhanced higher education-based industrial research and assessment, including assessment of sustainable manufacturing goals and the implementation of information technology advancements for supply chain analysis, logistics, systems monitoring, and industrial and manufacturing processes.  DOE is to pay the federal share of associated internship programs, and the U.S. Small Business Administration is to expedite small business loans to implement recommendations of industrial research and assessment centers.
  • DOE is to encourage and support the adoption of building codes that meet or exceed model building energy codes, or achieve equivalent or greater energy savings, and is to support full compliance with the codes.  DOE is also to support the updating of model building energy codes, including achieving aggregate energy savings targets.
  • There are many other provisions related to building efficiency.  For example:  DOE grants to establish training and assessment centers for efficiency in building; development of model leasing provisions and best practices; a voluntary EPA Tenant Star program to recognize tenants in commercial buildings that achieve high levels of energy efficiency in separate spaces; energy efficiency performance benchmarking; and efficiency improvements in federal buildings, schools, and Housing and Urban Development-assisted multifamily residential units.