LACONIA — United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen visited Lakes Region Community College yesterday, taking the opportunity to pitch a bill to promote energy efficiency, which she co-sponsored with Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican.
Speaking to facility managers attending a class offered by the college's Energy Services and Technology program, the only one of its kind in New Hampshire, Shaheen said that "this year we have a real shot at getting this passed."
Shaheen explained that she introduced the bill last year, but it encountered a series of procedural pitfalls that kept it from reaching the floor. She said the the bill — the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act — has gathered support from senators on both sides of the aisle as well as from diverse business, labor and environmental organizations. "We count 62 votes," she said, "so we have a filibuster proof bill." The bill, she noted. will be the first energy bill to come to the floor of the Senate for a vote since 2007.
The bill would strengthen building codes to make new residential and commercial properties more energy efficient while fostering programs at universities to train personnel in the design and operation of energy-efficient commercial buildings. The Department of Energy would be directed to partner with the private sector to promote research, development and marketing of energy-efficient technology and processes with industrial applications. The federal government, the largest user of energy in the country, would be required to introduce measures to reduce energy consumption, including incorporating energy-efficient standards into new federal buildings. Likewise federal agencies that underwrite , insure, purchase or securitize home mortgages would be required to include energy efficiency in the appraisal process.
Shaheen emphasized that the bill imposes no mandates and bears few costs. She said that a recent study projected that the legislation would generate 190,000 jobs, spare consumers $16-billion annually and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by the equivalent of removing 22 million cars from the road.
As if to underline the bipartisan support the bill enjoys, as Shaheen was touring the college, the office of her Republican counterpart, Senator Kelly Ayotte, issued a statement explaining that her "Better Buildings Act" has been added to the Shaheen-Portman bill. Noting that tenants consume half or more of the energy used in commercial buildings, Ayotte's bill would create a "Tenant Star" certification to recognize those achieving energy efficiencies in leased space.
CAPTION: Facility managers from the four corners of the state studying the operation and maintenance of energy systems at Lakes Region Community got a surprise visit from United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen yesterday. Shaheen briefed the class on her legislation to promote energy-efficiency in both the public and private sectors, which promises to be the first energy bill to reach the Senbate floor for a vote since 2007. (Laconia Daily Sun photo/Michael Kitch)