The election of Donald Trump has generated some uncertainty for the door and window industry, but there’s one item that looks to be a sure thing – an energy bill that’s been bouncing around Congress for a while appears to be dead, at least in its current form.
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“I think the chances for the energy bill at this point are extremely slim,” said Kevin McKenney director of Government Affairs for the Window and Door Manufacturers Association (WDMA). “Most members are looking to next year where they think they’ll get a better bill passed with President-elect Trump in the White House. In addition, the focus is now on passing a continuing resolution before Congress leaves for the holidays, so the energy bill has fallen further down the priorities ladder.”

A congressional conference committee has been working to sort out differences between a House energy bill that passed in December 2015 and the Senate’s version, which was approved in April.

The revised House bill includes extra energy and natural resources items, but it doesn’t have an amendment from the Senate bill that is strongly supported by WDMA. That measure would direct the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to use energy-efficiency savings from doors, windows and skylights when determining eligibility for an FHA-insured mortgage.

However, the revised House bill does contain an amendment supported by WDMA that defines the role of the Department of Energy (DOE) in developing new energy codes and guarantees that some products and technologies don’t receive preferential treatment. It also promotes efficiency targets for buildings that strike the proper cost-benefit balance, and stops DOE from supporting any code or standard change with a payback period of more than ten years.

Despite the uncertainty, McKenney said WDMA remains active in negotiations for the energy bill.

“WDMA has been working with the conference committee members to make sure that any bill that is finalized contains WDMA-backed provisions on building codes, known as ‘Blackburn-Schrader’ and the ‘SAVE Act,’ McKenney said. “Assuming a bill does not get finalized this month, we will be pushing those provisions early in the process next year, as we expect work to begin quickly on a new energy bill.”

Beyond the energy bill, congressional inaction also could doom popular tax credits related to energy-efficient improvements. They are set to expire at the end of the year, and renewal looks unlikely.

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