Efficiency Bill a Good First Step

Last week, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act with a bipartisan group of co-sponsors. The bill would spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors of the U.S. economy. Among its many provisions, the legislation would strengthen the Department of Energy's role in fostering technical support and supply-side energy efficiencies in the manufacturing sector.

The Shaheen-Portman efficiency bill is an important step in not only making American businesses more competitive, but also saving consumers money and creating jobs. According to a recent study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the bill has the potential to save American consumers $14 billion and to support the creation of 172,000 jobs by 2030.

Importantly, the legislation also demonstrates that pragmatic energy policies can earn bipartisan support. A House companion bill is awaiting introduction.

Industrial energy efficiency technologies such as combined heat and power, or CHP, and waste heat to power, or WHP, which capture and reuse wasted heat, dramatically reduce the cost of energy. CHP can also provide greater resilience in the face of extreme weather events, natural disasters, or grid blackouts.

Large manufacturers, refineries, hospitals, universities, and military bases are putting these highly efficient systems to work to ensure reliability, save money, reduce pollution, and protect customers, but further deployment should be encouraged. Many more facilities, particularly mission-critical institutions that can't afford to be offline, could take advantage of these systems if Congress eliminates unnecessary restrictions and increases incentives. Removing these barriers will require action by congressional tax writing committees, but passage of the Shaheen-Portman legislation would be a critical contribution.

These proven technologies are deployed throughout the country, with the largest concentrations of installed capacity in Texas, California, Louisiana, and New York. The United States has the capacity to generate 82 gigawatts of electricity through industrial efficiency technologies—about 12 percent of total U.S. production. Expert studies by the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Department of Energy have concluded that CHP and WHP could produce an additional 85 GW of power, or 20 percent of the nation's electricity supply, by 2030.

This bill, which further expands highly efficient technologies that save manufacturers and other customers money, ensures greater reliability, creates American jobs, and reduces pollution, deserves action. The U.S. Senate should take up and pass Shaheen-Portman.