Yesterday, U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D- Hawaii), Lamar Alexander (R -- Tenn.), and Dan Coats (R- Indiana) introduced bipartisan legislation to give federal agencies greater ability to save money and reduce energy usage. The Utility Energy Service Contracts Improvement Act of 2013 makes changes to existing law in order to clarify that federal agencies may enter into long-term contracts with utilities for energy saving services -- giving agencies more options to realize cost and energy savings opportunities.
"We need to do everything we can to save energy and taxpayer dollars. This bill makes a commonsense change that has the potential for an enormous impact on energy cost and consumption," said Senator Brian Schatz. "The federal government is the largest consumer of energy in the country, and this bill will expand our ability to invest in clean energy projects while saving money. I am glad that I was able to work across the aisle to partner with Senators Alexander and Coats on this practical solution."
"This legislation lets the federal government negotiate longer-term contracts with utilities, just as businesses would, to provide more certainty and reduce taxpayers' energy costs,"said Senator Lamar Alexander. "That's a welcome change from the usual Washington obsessions with burdensome mandates and wasteful taxpayer subsidies that instead increase the cost of energy."
"Too often, Washington finds ways to increase red tape rather than find ways to increase cost-savings,"said Senator Dan Coats. "This commonsense bill allows the federal government to make long-term energy efficiency upgrades that would result in saving taxpayer dollars."
This bill clarifies that federal agencies may enter into utility energy service contracts (UESCs) of up to 25 years, provided certain conditions are met. Currently, some federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, believe that they can only enter into these contracts for a maximum of ten years. Renewable energy projects, long-term energy security projects, and large scale energy conservation measures often are simply not cost-effective with a 10-year contract period. To date, federal agencies have used UESCs to invest approximately $2.7 billion in their facilities, however a much greater potential exists.