Tuesday, Sep 02, 2014
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Federal energy efficiency law faces rough reconciliation


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The U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 2126, the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act, on March 5. It serves as a companion bill to the Senate’s Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill, which has been moving through the Senate since 2011.

The bills agree in most aspects but one: The House version contains no funding.

According to the Congressional Budget Office, H.R. 2126 would amend federal law aimed at improving the energy efficiency of commercial office buildings.

The legislation would require the General Services Administration to develop model leasing provisions to encourage energy efficiency in privately owned buildings with federal tenants.

The bill also would establish a program called “Tenant Star,” similar to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, to promote energy efficiency in buildings leased to the federal government.

Finally, the bill would require the Department of Energy to prepare a report to the Congress on energy efficiency in commercial buildings.

“H.R. 2126 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments,” according to the CBO.

The Real Estate Roundtable, made up of leaders of the nation’s publicly-held and privately owned real estate ownership, development, lending and management firms and the leaders of national real estate trade associations, called HR 2126 “a smart, common sense bill that takes a voluntary, market-based approach to align commercial landlords and tenants to reduce demands on the power grid.”

On the other hand, the Shaheen-Portman bill, S. 2074, promotes energy efficiency across the economy through a mix of building codes, financing and rebates, voluntary labeling and technical assistance. The bill would target improvements in the residential, commercial and industrial sectors, which represented two-thirds of 2011 US energy-use emissions.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy lauds the legislation, estimated to save consumers and businesses $65 billion on their energy bills by 2030 and create 174,000 jobs, all by slashing energy waste.

Heritage Action for America, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization tied to the conservative Heritage Foundation think tank, blasted Shaheen-Portman. Heritage Action called the bill “blatant corporate welfare for large companies, or research and development projects conducted in universities, which the private sector should collaborate with and fund.”

Looks like it will be rough going to reconcile the two bills.

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