Coalition Pushes for Efficiency Funding

In a letter delivered to the members of the House-Senate congressional conference committee on the Fiscal Year 2004 Interior Appropriations bill, 16 of the member groups of the Sustainable Energy Coalition urged the conferees to support higher funding levels for the U.S. Department of Energy’s energy efficiency programs.

Washington D.C. – October 1, 2003 [] Noting that they were “concerned that the proposed reductions in funding levels for the some of the core efficiency programs are ill advised at a time when the need for a secure, domestic energy supply is so crucial,” the groups called upon the conferees to “support robust funding for energy efficiency programs.” Specific recommendations were put forth for each of twelve energy-efficiency programs administered by the U.S. Department of Energy including: Residential Building Integration, Windows R&D, Lighting and Appliance Standards, Federal Energy Management Program, Energy Star, State Building Codes Implementation Grants, Distributed Energy Resources, Appliances and Emerging Technologies, State Industries of the Future, Best Practices (under Industries of the Future), Rebuild America, Zero Energy Buildings. The full text of the letter and the list of signers follows: September 30, 2003 Dear Senator/Representative: As you go to conference on the Fiscal Year 2004 Interior Appropriations bill, we ask that you support robust funding for energy efficiency programs. As the United States mobilizes fiscal resources for military action in the Persian Gulf and for homeland security, we need both immediate action and long-term solutions to reduce U.S. oil imports and to meet the needs of the environment. We also need to stimulate the economy and create jobs. In 2001, the National Research Council found that each dollar of federal investment in energy efficiency has yielded over four dollars in economic benefits to the nation – benefits in the form of new products, new jobs and energy cost savings to American businesses and households. Although the House and Senate recommendations for energy efficiency programs appear to be similar to the Fiscal Year 2003 appropriated levels, the House bill includes a substantial increase for weatherization. We are certainly supportive of this program, but not at the expense of core efficiency RD&D programs. Grant programs like weatherization should supplement, not supplant, core DOE research programs. Also, we are concerned that the proposed reductions in funding levels for the some of the core efficiency programs are ill advised at a time when the need for a secure, domestic energy supply is so crucial. We are particularly concerned about the following programs: Residential Building Integration (Formerly Building America): We recommend that the House recede to the Senate request of US$15.2 million. Research goals for 70 percent energy reductions in new homes and 30 percent reductions in existing homes will ensure that America will have sufficient natural gas for its future needs and must be fully funded in order to have timely impact on current and future residential energy use. Windows R&D: The House is recommending $5 million and the Senate, $5.5 million. Although this is an increase from the President’s Budget request, it could still create damage to both advanced research concepts and industry outreach and ratings. We recommend restoration to the Fiscal Year 2002 level of $5.5 million for 2004. Lighting and Appliance Standards: DOE standards produce the greatest energy savings of any DOE program but the program is chronically under-funded. We advocate receding to the Senate recommendation of $10.5 million. Federal Energy Management Program: The House and Senate are both recommending $20 million, which is a reduction from both last year’s request and the actual 2003 appropriations. The cutback in training will have major impacts on the ability of agencies to attract private financing for energy upgrades and to incorporate new technologies into Federal facilities. We recommend an increase over the request of $2 million for $22 million total. Energy Star: Although this program is the Administration’s most effective climate change response program, both the House and Senate are recommending a cut from the Fiscal Year 2003 levels. We recommend funding of $6.2 million. State Building Codes Implementation Grants: State energy codes can save over 2 Quads over the next twenty years. As mandates for support in this area increase, the funding has been cut by more than half, so we recommend a return to Fiscal Year 2001 levels of $4.2 million, an increase of $2.4 million over the House request. Distributed Energy Resources: We are pleased that both the House and Senate are recommending increases for the DER Program. We advocate that the Conference Committee recede to the House level of $64.3 million. Appliances and Emerging Technologies: This funding is significantly reduced from the 2002 level and includes the important task of starting market acceptance of new high efficiency technologies. We recommend receding to the House mark for a total of $2.25 million for this program. State Industries of the Future: We are concerned about the Administration’s recommendation to eliminate this program, which has created education and outreach channels for industrial partners. We recommend funding of $2.0 million to keep this effort at the Fiscal Year 2003 level. Best Practices under Industries of the Future (Crosscutting) in the Industry Sector account: Many technologies are available in the areas of steam, motors, and compressed air that can make U.S. industry much more energy efficient, and therefore, more competitive. The Best Practices program has successfully assisted our nation’s businesses in adopting these technologies. We recommend funding of for this important program at $9.2 million. Rebuild America: This program provides outreach and technical assistance to community schools, hospitals, contractors, and other entities to upgrade existing structures with evolving and existing energy-efficient technologies. We request that the House appropriation of $10.628 million for Rebuild be held in Conference. Zero Energy Buildings: Up until this year, this program was funded in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill. There is significant House and Senate support for the transfer of funding to Interior. Explicit language in the Interior Bill is necessary for this program to continue. Additionally, we recommend this program be funded at the Administration request of $4million for 2004. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Alliance to Save Energy, Alliance for Affordable Energy, American Bioenergy Association, American Solar Energy Society, American Wind Energy Association, Bob Lawrence & Associates, Breakthrough Technologies, Cascade Associates, Environmental & Energy Study Institute, Griffin Industries, Inc., New Uses Council, Solar Energy Industries Association, The Stella Group, Ltd., Union of Concerned Scientists, Vermont Energy Investment Corporation.
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