Kerry, Snowe Secure Small Businesses Energy Efficiency Provisions in Energy Bill
Last night Senators John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) secured amendments to the CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6) that helps small businesses increase their energy efficiency and holds the Bush Administration accountable for failing to provide tools that will help small businesses reduce their dependency on fossil fuels. The amendments were modeled after legislation Kerry and Snowe introduced this week (S. 1657) and follow a hearing the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held earlier this year focusing on what the government can do to assist small businesses in becoming more energy efficient.
"America's small business owners will now have a partner in Washington to help them reduce their energy costs and empower them to be on the front lines fighting global climate change," said Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. "Our provisions will provide the resources to help entrepreneurs conduct energy audits, access loans for investing in renewable energy, and ensure the Administration implements an energy efficiency information program that Congress enacted two years ago."
"As the Ranking Member on the Small Business Committee and as a longstanding steward of the environment, I firmly believe that small businesses should play a leading role in forging a solution to global climate change and rising energy prices," said Senator Snowe. "According to a recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association, 75 percent of small businesses believe that energy efficiency can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And yet, only 33 percent of those respondents had successfully invested in energy efficiency programs for their businesses. Our provisions will help to incentivize small businesses to make a smaller carbon 'footprint.'"
The provisions added to the energy bill will:
# Require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement within 90 days an energy efficiency program that was mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act;
# Establish an audit program to increase energy efficiency using Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs);
# Promote financing agreements between small businesses and utility companies to increase energy efficiency;
# Create a telecommuting pilot program at the SBA responsible for educational materials and outreach to small businesses on the benefits of telecommuting;
# Allow small businesses conducting energy efficiency or renewable energy research and development to be given priority consideration in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs; and
# Establish loans for small firms to invest in use of renewable sources of energy in their business.