Group Sees Energy Bill 'Glass' Not Even Half Full

American energy bill achieves only fracton of needed savings, says American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Published: 19-Nov-2003

The energy bill released last weekend by the House-Senate conference committee achieves only a fraction of the energy savings needed to meet the critical challenges facing America: protecting national security, restoring electric system reliability, and keeping consumer energy bills affordable, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), a nonprofit research organization.

"America needs and deserves better. This bill leaves out at least 75 percent of the energy savings it should contain," said ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel. "While the appliance standards provision and the energy efficiency tax incentives are worthwhile, the bill ignores key big-ticket savings in vehicle fuel economy and electricity efficiency."

The bill not only fails to increase fuel economy standards, but also rejects the Senate's 1 million-barrel-per-day oil savings target, noted ACEEE. "With U.S. oil dependency putting America's security at risk at home and overseas, it is deeply disappointing that Congress is unable to take real action on this problem," stated Bill Prindle, ACEEE's Deputy Director.

The bill also fails to set any efficiency goals for the electricity industry or to provide any public benefits funding, according to ACEEE. Twenty states have created public benefits funds that spend over $1 billion annually for energy efficiency; a federal public benefits fund would multiply such resources by threefold or more. Three months after the largest power system failure in U.S. history, it is astonishing that Congress has ignored the fast and effective relief that energy efficiency offers, ACEEE noted.

On the other hand, ACEEE praised the conferees for accepting and improving upon the Senate appliance and equipment efficiency standards provisions, as well as for improving the tax credits for commercial buildings and combined heat and power systems relative to the provisions in either the House or Senate bill.

ACEEE also found that the vehicle tax credit provision, while falling significantly short of what the Senate proposed, will provide a boost to sales of hybrid-electric and other advanced technology vehicles. "Some highly efficient vehicles will be left out in the cold, and some not-so-efficient vehicles will get more credit than they should," said Therese Langer, Director of ACEEE's Transportation Program. "But the proposed credits will bring into the market efficient hybrids in categories where we haven't seen them yet, both light- and heavy-duty."

ACEEE's analysis of the bill shows expected savings from current provisions, and potential savings from missing provisions. Both are shown in the table at

"The efficiency provisions of the current energy bill are only a 'band-aid'," stated Nadel. "Given the natural gas, oil, electric reliability, and environmental problems that the current bill does not address, Congress will likely need to return to the energy issue in just a few years," he predicted. "I hope a future Congress will show more vision, and be willing to take much stronger actions to improve energy efficiency," he concluded.

More details on ACEEE's analysis of energy savings in the energy bill can be found at

ACEEE's recommendations for a more complete set of energy efficiency provisions for the federal energy bill are found at

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