An energy efficiency bill moving through Congress has been hailed as the best chance for bipartisan passage of major energy legislation in years, but new analysis shows it could do much more through a massive economic and environmental boost for America.
The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, also known as the Shaheen-Portman bill, could create hundreds of thousands of green jobs while saving consumers billions and cutting energy use and emissions, reports the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).
Shaheen-Portman, named for sponsoring Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), has been introduced and stalled before. But this time passage looks promising, on the strength of bipartisan, business, and environmental support – meaning a major step forward on the transition to a clean energy economy.
Best Bipartisan Chance For Energy Reform?
First a little background. S761 was introduced this April and passed through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a 19-3 vote. In a Congress defined by bipartisan gridlock, securing 12 Democratic votes with 7 Republican ones is a notable achievement. After passing through committee, Shaheen-Portman seemed to fall by the wayside as Congress took up other issues, but could move to consideration by the full Senate as early as next week.
The bill is a more moderate version of similar legislation from the pair of Senators in 2011 and promotes energy efficiency across the US economy through a mix of building codes, financing and rebates, voluntary labeling, and technical assistance. If enacted, the bill would target improvements in the residential, commercial, and industrial sectors, which represented two-thirds of 2011 US energy-use emissions.
Shaheen-Portman A Clean-Energy Kickstarter
ACEEE’s analysis found that even 2013’s moderate version would have an incredible and wide-ranging positive impact on the way America uses and pays for electricity. The study examined three potential outcomes: the core bill, the core bill with selected amendments that have bipartisan support (Group A), and Group A as well as additional amendments likely to be stripped away due to partisan objections (Group A+).
If Group A becomes law, an increasingly likely outcome, America’s about to get a massive clean energy kick-start. By 2020 net annual consumer savings will be $2.3 billion, climbing to $14.7 billion by 2030. Cumulative investment will be around $10.9 billion in 2020 and $67.2 billion by 2030 – almost all of it coming from the private sector.
Green Jobs, Energy Savings, Emissions Reductions
And of course any time huge amounts of private dollars are being spent jobs are quick to follow. Group A passage would support 70,000 new green jobs in 2020, 143,000 jobs in 2025, and 172,000 jobs in 2030. While many of these positions will be directly related to construction and manufacturing, a significant number will be created as wages and consumer savings spill over into the wider economy.
But that’s not all. As energy efficiency improvements take hold, American energy use and emissions will plummet. ACEEE estimates that by 2030, Group A will cumulatively reduce US energy consumption by 10.7 quadrillion British Thermal Units (Btu). For context, that’s the combined annual energy consumption of California and Michigan combined. These energy savings will also cut peak electricity demand 30,000 megawatts (MW) by 2030 – equivalent to the maximum output of roughly 54 power plants.
And along with reduced energy use comes reduced emissions. Under the Group A outlook, annual US emissions will drop by 18.1 million metric tons (MMT) in 2020 and plummet by 85.1MMT in 2030. As the World Resources Institute pointed out, Shaheen-Portman alone won’t get America to its 17% emissions reduction by 2020 goal, but it’ll play a major role in augmenting efforts to clean our energy mix.
Energy Efficiency FTW
Add it all up, and Shaheen-Portman is a winning idea for every aspect of America’s energy and environmental debate. Influential business interests representing more than $7.3 trillion in annual revenue and 16 million employees, as well as some of America’s biggest environmental groups are behind the bill – try to think about the last time clean energy received that kind of support.
“Energy efficiency is an excellent, bipartisan and affordable way to immediately grow our economy and create the kind of jobs the 21st century economy demands,” said Senator Shaheen. “The bipartisan energy efficiency plan Senator Portman and I have introduced will help address our country’s energy needs in a way that boosts our economy and also saves taxpayers dollars.”