Proponents say it will spur the use of energy efficiency technologies in the commercial, residential and industrial sectors of our economy, save consumers and taxpayers money through lowered energy consumption and help create jobs while making our country more energy independent and environmentally friendly.

There’s a lot to potentially like about the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness (ESIC) Act. The bill, sponsored by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), recently sailed through committee with overwhelming bi-partisan support and could soon come up for a vote on the Senate floor after the legislative body reconvenes next week following its summer recess.

“We don’t often get legislation that brings Republicans, Democrats, business, labor and environmental leaders together, but with this bill we have done that,” Shaheen says on her Senate website. “Energy efficiency is the fastest, most cost-efficient way to tackle our energy needs and keep our economy competitive all while creating needed and sustainable jobs. Passing this bill would be a clear and quick win for the economy, taxpayers and the environment.”

Mike O’Brien, president of the Window & Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA), says he supports the bill, even if it has been “significantly watered down.”

“It’s fine,” O’Brien says, “but it’s not going to do a lot for this particular industry.”

O’Brien isn’t even all that optimistic about the bill’s chances of going to the floor, given the number of more pressing issues facing the Senate in the form of possible military action in Syria and another looming debt ceiling crisis.

Rich Walker, AAMA’s president and CEO, feels that costly rulemaking has deterred energy-efficient improvements to date, but says he welcomes any “well thought-out and organized national campaign to improve energy efficiency.”

The bill easily passed through the Senate Energy Committee with a vote of 19-3 and has received overwhelming support from a broad coalition of business, labor and environmental leaders. By 2020, Shaheen-Portman is estimated to create 80,000 new jobs, lower CO2 emissions by the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the road, and save consumers $4 billion a year in reduced energy costs, according to a 2012 study of the bill.

The bill, however, enjoyed similar optimism when first introduced a year ago, only to fall victim to the amendments lawmakers tacked onto it, including a controversial Keystone XL amendment that diminished support. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid ultimately didn’t send the measure to the floor for a vote.

According to its backers, ESIC will help speed the transition to a more energy-efficient economy, increasing both our economic competitiveness and our energy security for the coming decades, while driving economic growth and encouraging private sector job creation.

Here’s a closer look at what ESIC Act would mean to buildings, manufacturers and the federal government if passed in its present form:


o Strengthen national model building codes to make new homes and commercial buildings more energy efficient while working with states and private industry to make the code-writing process more transparent.; and

o Train the next generation of workers in energy-efficient commercial building design and operation through university-based Building Training and Research Assessment Centers.


o Direct the Department of Energy (DOE) to work closely with private sector partners to encourage research, development and commercialization of innovative energy efficient technology and processes for industrial applications;

o Help manufacturers reduce energy use and become more competitive by incentivizing the use of more energy efficient electric motors and transformers; and

o Establish a DOE program – SupplySTAR – to help make companies’ supply chains more efficient.


o Require the federal government – the single largest energy user in the country – to adopt energy saving techniques for computers, saving energy and taxpayer dollars; and

o Allow federal agencies to use existing funds to update plans for new federal buildings, using the most current building efficiency standards.

“Washington can seem pretty divided these days, but there are some things on which we can all agree,” Portman has said. “This bill is one of them – it’s good for the economy and good for the environment.”

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