Congress Saves Jobs and Consumer Dollars in Southwestern States

Federal Energy Efficiency Programs Spared Budget Ax

The U.S. Congress today approved, and the president signed into law, a total budget of $1.17 billion for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) energy efficiency programs for FY18, a 12 percent increase over the $1.04 billion lawmakers approved in FY17 and a sum more than four times the $231.5 million that the Trump Administration proposed for these programs. In addition, the federal budget maintains the funding for the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR programs in FY18 at the same level as in FY17, again ignoring deep cuts requested by the Administration.

“We are very pleased to see the Congress recognize the value of DOE’s and EPA’s energy efficiency programs,” said Howard Geller, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “The DOE implements R&D programs, provides grants to help retrofit homes occupied by low-income families, offers technical assistance to companies, and implements energy efficiency codes and standards—all of which help consumers and businesses save tens of billions of dollars on their energy bills. Likewise, the EPA ENERGY STAR programs are crucial for enabling consumers and businesses to identify and purchase highly energy-efficient products and buildings.”

Throughout the past year, SWEEP and other stakeholders contacted their U.S. Senators and Representatives to educate them about the benefits of the federal energy efficiency programs, especially the jobs and other economic benefits. Hundreds of businesses in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah weighed in to support the programs. “The increase in funding for DOE’s energy efficiency programs will be put to good use in developing the next generation of energy-efficient buildings, heating and cooling systems, lighting and vehicles,” said Patricia Rothwell, President of the board of directors for the Energy Efficiency Business Coalition of Colorado.  “Our business members and businesses across the country benefit from the DOE programs, as well as from EPA’s ENERGY STAR programs.”

SWEEP thanks the Senators and Representatives from the Southwest’s states who supported strong funding for federal energy efficiency programs.

Highlights of DOE and EPA Energy Efficiency Programs

In addition to helping consumers and businesses save energy and reduce costs, all these programs contribute to well-paying jobs in the Southwest. For example, according to a recent DOE report, the six Southwest states have a combined total of 123,000 jobs related to energy efficiency, more than the number of jobs in any other energy sector, including oil and gas, coal, or renewable technologies. The federal programs have contributed to many of these energy efficiency jobs.

Advanced Manufacturing. The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) includes research and development (R&D) programs to develop new energy-efficient manufacturing technologies, industrial assessment centers, and combined heat and power technical assistance. Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) are operated by 28 universities throughout the U.S. The IACs provide free energy assessments to small and medium-size manufacturers, and provide training to engineering students. AMO programs help industrial facilities reduce energy costs and maintain their competitiveness.

Building Technologies. The Building Technologies Office (BTO) includes R&D programs to develop new energy efficient building technologies, the building energy codes program, and support for appliances and equipment efficiency standards. BTO’s research and its support for building energy codes and appliance and equipment standards helps businesses and individuals save billions of dollars per year in reduced energy costs.

Vehicle Technologies. The Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) includes R&D programs to develop energy efficient and alternative fuel (such as electric) vehicle technologies. VTO also supports the Clean Cities program, which helps consumers reduce their gasoline and diesel consumption by millions of gallons per year.

Weatherization Assistance. The weatherization assistance program helps low-income families implement home insulation and other improvements to reduce energy costs and improve comfort and health. Nationally, this program achieved average energy cost savings of $280 per single family home receiving assistance.

ENERGY STAR programs. The EPA’s ENERGY STAR programs help businesses and homeowners reduce energy costs through labeling of energy-efficient appliances, equipment, and buildings. ENERGY STAR-labeled products and buildings are more energy efficient than the minimum efficiency required by the relevant appliance or equipment standards or building code.

About SWEEP: The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.