AGA Hails Senate Energy Bill for “Strategic Use of Our Nation’s Natural Resources”

April 2016, Vol. 243, No. 4

The American Gas Association (AGA) today praised the U.S. Senate for passing the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) which contains several provisions that would benefit natural gas customers throughout the nation, including a provision to increase energy efficiency in federal buildings.

“The bipartisan energy legislation passed by the Senate contains provisions that promote strategic use of our nation’s natural resources,” said AGA President and CEO Dave McCurdy. “Natural gas utilities have been supportive of this legislation through its many stages and worked with the energy efficiency community and other allies to strengthen the bill along the way. We applaud Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell for their tireless efforts to guide this bill and appreciate the efforts of leaders such as Senators Hoeven and Manchin that have championed improving how our nation uses energy for the past several years.”

Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 included a ban on fossil fuel-generated energy use and direct use in new and renovated federal buildings by 2030. In the years since, the U.S. Department of Energy has yet to issue a final rule implementing this requirement due to complexities of interpreting the law. The bill passed today by the Senate contains language authored by Senators Hoeven and Manchin that replaces the fossil fuel ban from Section 433 with efficiency measures supported by a coalition of industry groups and environmental advocates with the intent of reducing greenhouse gas emissions, promoting energy efficiency and reducing the cost of energy in federal buildings.

Another provision in the Senate-passed energy bill would help government facilities make energy upgrades with no upfront or incremental funding. With Utility Energy Services Contracts (UESCs) the government and utilities can work together to install and maintain new energy efficient equipment and use utility savings to pay back the investment. The bill contained language that clarifies that the term of a UESCs can extend beyond 10 years, but not exceed 25 years.

Now energy leaders from the House and Senate must reconcile the bill with the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2015 (H.R. 8) which passed the House on December 3, 2015. There were similar provisions in a House bill that natural gas utilities support. AGA looks forward to a conference committee that continues our nation’s progress towards economic growth, energy security and environmental protection.

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