Bipartisan Bill Addresses Energy Costs

WASHINGTON — Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) unveiled a bipartisan bill in the Senate that aims to help the country regain its economic footing and global leadership by deploying energy efficiency widely across the United States.

The bill, called the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2011, provides energy efficiency financing options for manufacturers, strengthens building energy codes, requires the federal government to improve its energy management and establishes a wide range of new appliance standards.

The bill was created with the help of the Alliance to Save Energy and other businesses, advocacy groups and associations, in conjunction with the senators and their staff.

The goal of the bill is to drive job creation and lower energy demand and costs for buildings, utilities, appliances, manufacturing, industrial and the federal government. It could potential save consumers and businesses tens of billions of dollars and bolster global competitiveness and energy independence, according to a statement from the alliance.

The U.S. buildings sector consumes 72 percent of electricity, 55 percent of natural gas and 40 percent of U.S. primary energy, according to the bill.

The Alliance estimates that American households will spend about $5,700 this year on energy for their homes and vehicles, up nearly 25 percent over the past two years, officials said.

"These rising costs threaten the fragile economic recovery under way," according to an alliance statement. "The Shaheen-Portman bill, if enacted, can take a big bite out of these costs by cutting energy waste in buildings, in the industrial sectors and in the appliances and equipment we use every day."

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