White House Proposes Participating Companies Fund Energy Star

March 26th, 2019 by Drew Vass

The White House released its proposed budget recently for fiscal year 2020, including key cutbacks in areas pertaining to energy and the environment.

In just over two years, together with the American people, we have launched an unprecedented economic boom,” declares President Donald J. Trump in his opening statements for the proposal, pointing to (among other things) what his administration estimates to be 500,000 new jobs in manufacturing and low unemployment. “Our nation is experiencing an economic miracle—and it is improving the lives of all our citizens,” he declares.

If the administration’s proposal is accepted as is, things would change for door and window manufacturers who make and sell Energy-Star-rated products. The preliminary budget, President Trump’s statements suggest, is designed in part to bring “federal spending and debt under control.” In the process, it aims to shift the costs for the nation’s Energy Star program to a fee-based system that leans on participating companies for funding.

As a voluntary program introduced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and comanaged by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Star is declared, “the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to make well-informed decisions.” The proposed 2020 budget requests $31.7 billion for DOE—an 11-percent decrease from 2019. Proposed funding for EPA includes a $2.8 billion (31-percent) decrease from 2019 estimates, to $6.1 billion.

The budget further protects taxpayers by eliminating costly, wasteful or duplicative programs,” the budget’s language suggests.

The current preliminary budget isn’t the administration’s first attempts at handing off the costs for Energy Star to the private sector. In March 2017, the President’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2018 called for cutting the program’s funding entirely, leaving just $5 million in place to close out operations and transfer the program to a non-governmental operator.

By administering select EPA programs through the collection of user fees, entities benefiting from those programs would directly pay for the services and benefits that the programs provide,” the proposal suggests. “The 2020 budget outlines legislative proposals to authorize EPA to administer a handful of mature programs through the collection and expenditure of user fees. For instance, the budget includes a proposal to fee-fund the Energy Star program, a voluntary certification program that aims to help businesses and individuals save money and protect the environment through improved energy efficiency.”

DWM’s editors reached out to a total of six door and window manufacturers for input regarding the proposed changes. By press time, all declined or failed to comment.

Meanwhile, officials for Alliance to Save Energy (ASE), a nonprofit that promotes expanding the economy while using less energy, calls many of the administration’s proposed cuts “unacceptable.”

This proposal would take an ax to innovation in our energy sector, cutting critical research funds and energy efficiency investments that have a proven track record of reducing energy costs for consumers and businesses,” declares ASE president Jason Hartke. With numerous hurdles left to pass through a nine-step process, “We look forward to working with republicans and democrats in Congress to fight for these programs in the coming months,” he adds. “Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have resoundingly rejected these cuts for the past two years because they know the huge economic value these investments deliver. They understand how these programs ensure that the U.S. leads the world in developing energy efficiency technologies, how they support the more than 2.3 million people who work in the energy efficiency sector, and how they drive enormous energy savings, reducing Americans’ energy bills by hundreds of dollars per year while cutting carbon emissions.”

Energy Star, in particular, Hartke suggests is, “a model for public-private partnerships around the world with more than 16,000 partner companies and organizations.” The program, ASE reports, costs approximately $42 million annually, but delivered $34 billion in savings in 2015 alone.

A final budget resolution must be passed by majority votes in the House and Senate. The deadline for signing into law is October 1, 2019.

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