Senate Energy Bill Update

By Dan Lapato posted 02-04-2016 01:50 PM

The Senate continues debate over their comprehensive energy bill, titled the Energy Policy Modernization Act. The legislation contains several provisions supported by APGA including language that delays the Department of Energy’s (DOE) implementation of the furnace rule to allow stakeholders the opportunity to negotiate and reach agreement on a rule that makes sense, enacts revisions to the role DOE plays in the development of energy codes, and repeals section 433, which bans the use of fossil fuels in federal buildings by 2030. APGA successfully opposed an amendment that would have mandated an arbitrary nationwide energy efficiency resource standard that would have imposed financial penalties on electric and gas utilities yet failed to achieve the required efficiency gains in their customer base. Through years of hard work, the repeal of section 433 has become fairly non-controversial. The repeal of section 433 has been included in the base text of several energy bills and continues to be a non-issue.

Over the last several weeks, many energy efficiency advocates and environmental organizations have been trying to strip out the Senate’s furnace language. This language would remand the rule back to DOE for additional stakeholder analysis and input. These groups have been pushing to have the Senate language replaced with language that was developed early in 2015 as part of the House’s energy bill debate. However, over the past year, the House language has become obsolete, as this language would only delay DOE action on a rule until July, so replacing the current Senate language with the House’s language would have nullified APGA’s ability to remand the furnace rule back to DOE. Because of the outreach from APGA members, staff and partners over the last two weeks, the energy efficiency advocates were unable to secure enough votes to convince any Senator to take up their effort to swap out the language. APGA has scored a major victory, but this issue is far from being settled.

Another major victory was standing up and expressing opposition to Senator Franken’s (D-Minn.) energy efficiency resource standard amendment. The amendment would have imposed a one-size fits all federal energy efficiency mandate that would require natural gas and electric systems to achieve annual energy savings equal to an escalating and arbitrary percentage of a base period of energy consumption. Because of the work and outreach conducted by APGA, the amendment received only 43 votes in favor of it—far short of the 60 that was needed—and 52 votes against it.

On February 4, the Senate ended their debate with the hopes that an amendment to provide financial aid to Flint, Mich., can be negotiated over the weekend. Without an agreement on financial aid to Flint, the Senate will probably fail to pass an energy bill.

For questions on this article, please contact Dan Lapato of APGA staff by phone at 202-464-2742 or by email at