Give America a Strong Energy Efficiency Bill as Meaningful 'Last Act' of the 110th Congress

The Alliance to Save Energy noted that the adoption of the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act by the House of Representatives today did little to move the Congress closer to enactment of energy efficiency policies that can help American consumers and businesses.

For Further Information

Ronnie Kweller (202) 530-2203 (O); rkweller@ase.org

Washington, D.C., September 16, 2008 - The Alliance to Save Energy noted that the adoption of the Comprehensive American Energy Security and Consumer Protection Act by the House of Representatives on a largely partisan vote today did little to move the Congress closer to enactment of energy efficiency and clean energy policies that can help American consumers and businesses. The Alliance called on both houses of Congress to cease squabbling and, rather, focus on crafting an energy package based on the key clean energy and energy efficiency provisions that have proven to have wide bipartisan, as well as public, appeal.

The Alliance noted that for the past year, Congress has repeatedly failed to extend key consumer and commercial energy efficiency tax incentives, despite the broad, bipartisan support these measures enjoy in both houses and within the administration, because the provisions thus far have been coupled with controversial measures that ultimately took down the bills.

"Since omitting extension of key clean energy and energy efficiency tax incentives from the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 last December, Congress has squandered one opportunity after another to provide relief to consumers and businesses reeling from the double whammy of spiraling energy costs and a faltering economy," said Alliance President Kateri Callahan. Callahan said it would be inexcusable for the Congress to adjourn without at least extending essential tax incentives that are helping Americans cope with high energy costs, including:

• A one-year extension (through 2008) of federal income tax credits for homeowners who make energy efficiency home improvements;
• A five-year extension (through 2013) of tax deductions for owners of new energy-efficient commercial buildings; and
• Extension through 2010 of tax credits for manufacturers of energy-efficient appliances.

The homeowner tax credits that were part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 expired at the end of 2007, and the commercial building tax deductions are set to expire at the end of 2008.

"The House-passed tax breaks would not only help consumers and businesses lower their energy bills, they also would provide longer-term benefits for our economy by encouraging investment in new technologies that will, in turn, create new jobs, improve our environment, and protect our national energy security," Callahan added.

The Alliance also urges the Congress to consider passage of key energy efficiency provisions that were included in the House-passed energy bill and also have been part of other energy legislation considered this year, including provisions to:

• Strengthen energy efficiency building codes by 30 percent starting in 2010 and by 50 percent starting in 2020;
• Provide tax credits of $3,000 to $5,000 to owners of plug-in electric drive motor vehicles;
• Create a Renewable Electricity Standard that permits utilities to use energy efficiency savings to comprise up to 4 percent of the targeted 15 percent of energy that they must generate from renewable energy sources by the year 2020;
• Encourage energy efficient mortgages (EEMs) to finance home energy improvements and encourage efficient affordable housing;
• And increase funding for public transit.

"Enactment of legislation containing these key energy efficiency provisions would help not only the economy, but also, most importantly, enhance our national security and tackle global climate change," Callahan said.

She concluded: "The only reason not to enact a strong energy efficiency package is politics; and that should not be reason enough for inaction by this Congress and this administration."

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