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ASHRAE Government Affairs Update, 4/24/2015

Federal Activities

  • Congress Sends Energy Efficiency Bill to President Obama
  • House Appropriations Committee Approves Energy & Water Funding Bill for FY 2016
  • House and Senate Members Introduce Bills to Promote Consumer Access to Electricity Usage Data
  • DOE Seeks Public Comment for Updating and Improving Its Methodology for Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of Residential and Commercial Energy Codes
  • DOE Outlines the Process by Which It Will Participate in the Development of 2018 IECC
  • DOE Releases Quadrennial Energy Review
  • DOE Proposes Rule on Test Methods and Minimum Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Water Heaters and Residential-Duty Commercial Water Heaters

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

  • State Legislatures Completing Sessions

Federal Activities

For additional information on federal issues, please contact Mark Ames, ASHRAE’s Senior Manager of Federal Government Affairs, at [email protected].

Congress Sends Energy Efficiency Bill to President Obama

Led by long-time energy efficiency champions Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Representatives David McKinley (R-WV) and Peter Welch (D-VT), and many others, the House and Senate recently passed the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2015 (S.535). President Barack Obama is expected to sign the bill into law in the near future.

This bill will create a voluntary new Tenant Star program, model commercial energy and water efficiency leasing provisions, exempts certain electric resistance water heaters used for demand response from pending DOE regulations, and requires that federally-leased buildings with an ENERGY STAR label benchmark and disclose their energy use data, where practical.

ASHRAE has been a strong supporter of this legislation, and is pleased with the outcome.

 

House Appropriations Committee Approves Energy & Water Funding Bill for FY 2016

Earlier this week the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016. The $35.4 billion bill would provide an overall increase of $1.2 billion compared to the current (2015) fiscal year, but is a mixed bag when it comes to the programs that ASHRAE cares most about. For instance, the bill would cut DOE’s Building Technologies Program by $21.6 million. Also, the Committee Report for this bill once again contains potentially damaging language similar to that which was included last year:

“Consistent with current policy, of the funds made available for Building Technologies, the Department is directed not to advocate, promote, or discourage the adoption or inclusion of a particular building energy code or code provision, other than the technical and economic analysis work required by statutory mandate, or to provide funding to private third parties or non-governmental organizations that engage in this type of advocacy.”

Even if a bill is enacted, report language does not have the force of law, and while the phrase “consistent with current policy” likely means DOE would not have to change any of its current behavior, the inclusion of this language could discourage DOE from funding organizations that assist in the development and adoption of building energy codes, such as Standard 90.1 and the IECC. ASHRAE has been among those organizations leading active educational efforts on Capitol Hill to help Members of Congress and their staff understand the key role DOE plays in the development of the model energy codes. Despite the reemergence of this language, ASHRAE will continue its educational efforts in the hopes of improving public policy going forward.

Building energy codes language aside, the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill is far from all bad. For instance, the bill would provide up to $10 million for a competitive funding opportunity for proposals that would achieve deep energy efficiency improvements in small- and medium-sized commercial buildings. The Report also contains language encouraging DOE to support collaborative research and demonstration projects on the energy savings potential of adaptive, automated, and learning building technologies in commercial and residential buildings.

The next step for this bill is consideration and passage on the House floor. While a date has not yet been set for debate, if last year is any indication, this could happen in late May or early June.

For additional information on the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016, including summary documents, bill and report text, please visit http://appropriations.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=394164

 

House and Senate Members Introduce Bills to Promote Consumer Access to Electricity Usage Data

Earlier this week Representatives Peter Welch (D-VT) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA), and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced the Access to Consumer Energy Information (E-Access) Act (H.R.1980/S.1044). As their titles imply, these bills would enhance consumer access to and understanding of their energy usage and price information by establishing a program for this purpose, and create voluntary guidelines and model standards for consumer access to electric energy information. These guidelines would be developed in consultation with state and local regulatory authorities, consumer and privacy advocacy groups, utilities, the National Association of State Energy Officials, and others.

 

DOE Seeks Public Comment for Updating and Improving Its Methodology for Assessing the Cost-Effectiveness of Residential and Commercial Energy Codes

The U.S. Department of Energy has issued a request for information on how it may update and improve its methodology for assessing the cost-effectiveness (which includes an energy savings assessment) of residential and commercial building energy codes – namely the International Energy Conservation Code and ASHRAE Standard 90.1.

Comments are due by May 14, 2015. To view the full notice, please visit https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/14/2015-08601/request-for-information-updating-and-improving-the-doe-methodology-for-assessing-the

 

DOE Outlines the Process by Which It Will Participate in the Development of 2018 IECC

DOE has issued a notice, and is seeking public comment on the process by which it produces its code change proposals for the IECC, and otherwise participates in the ICC code development process. This process will be used when DOE participates in the development of the 2018 IECC and other codes developed by the ICC.

Comments are due by May 14, 2015. To view the full notice, please visit https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/14/2015-08599/doe-participation-in-development-of-the-international-energy-conservation-code

 

DOE Releases Quadrennial Energy Review

DOE has unveiled the first installment of its Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which examines how to modernize the United States’ energy infrastructure, including energy transmission, storage, and distribution. Subsequent editions of the QER will focus on energy efficiency and other issues.

The comprehensive, 348-page document, is the product of years of consultation with stakeholders throughout the private and public sectors, and is becoming a major topic of discussion on Capitol Hill and throughout the federal government.

For additional information on the QER, including summary documents and the full report, please visit http://www.energy.gov/epsa/quadrennial-energy-review-qer

 

DOE Proposes Rule on Test Methods and Minimum Energy Conservation Standards for Consumer Water Heaters and Residential-Duty Commercial Water Heaters

DOE has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on test methods and minimum energy conservation standards for consumer water heaters and residential-duty commercial water heaters. ASHRAE Standard 90.1 is discussed in this proposed rule.

Comments are due on May 14, 2015. Full information is available at https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/04/14/2015-07932/energy-conservation-program-for-consumer-products-and-certain-commercial-and-industrial-equipment

 

GGAC Regional and Chapter Activities

For additional information on state, local, and international government affairs, please contact Jim Scarborough, ASHRAE’s Manager of Grassroots Government Affairs, at [email protected].

State Legislatures Completing Sessions

Fourteen state legislatures have now completed their 2015 session and have adjourned for the year. Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming have all adjourned. However, the State of Louisiana just began its legislative session on April 13 and will be in session until mid-July. Louisiana is the last state legislature to convene this year. Seven states, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin have full-time legislatures so those bodies will be in session through the end of the year as is the U.S. Congress.

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