Statement by Lowell Ungar, ACEEE Senior Policy Advisor
The 2018 omnibus spending bill is good news for energy efficiency. The bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, disregards the draconian cuts proposed by the administration and instead upholds or increases investments in many federal programs that help consumers and businesses save energy. That means more money in Americans’ wallets, a better bottom line for American businesses, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, and a healthier US economy.
Overall, the bill increases funding for energy efficiency programs at the US Department of Energy (DOE) and maintains funding levels for efficiency programs at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Specifically, the bill maintains current funding levels for ENERGY STAR®, as well as SmartWay and other voluntary programs that give consumers and businesses the information they need to select energy-efficient products. EPA’s Ann Arbor laboratory, where all vehicle certification testing and standards development occurs, also appears to be level-funded.
DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will see an overall increase of 11%, with a bump in funding for almost all of the program offices. The Advanced Manufacturing Office (which includes the Industrial Assessment Centers) will see an 18% increase, while the Building Technologies and Vehicle Technologies Offices will each receive 10% more funding for FY18. The legislation also includes 10% increases for the Weatherization Assistance Program—which helps low-income families and seniors make home improvements that improve energy efficiency and health, and the State Energy Program—which helps state governments make critical energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy security investments.
We are encouraged to see that Congress recognizes the value of these key energy efficiency programs. The bill does cut DOE’s Equipment and Building Standards Program, which saves families nearly $500 on their energy and water bills each year, by 7% (it also includes the Building Energy Codes Program). However the lack of support by the administration for implementing these programs (including statutory obligations) is a much bigger problem. We strongly hope that Congress continues to support both of these programs. With consistent investments in these critical programs, Congress can ensure that energy efficiency continues to cut energy waste, create jobs, drive economic growth, and save money for American families and businesses.
The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors.