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Energy Technology Transfer Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

ENERGY TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER ACT

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Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the ranking member of the full committee, Mr. Hall, for yielding me the time to discuss H.R. 85, the Energy Technology Transfer Act. I would also like to commend my friend and colleague Mr. Baird of Washington for managing this bill, and the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Miller) for his hard work on this bill.

The provisions in this bill were included in section 11 of H.R. 6203, the Alternative Energy Research and Development Act, which passed the House by voice vote in September of last year. The Federal Government spends billions every year on energy-related research and development at our universities and national laboratories. The result is often new technologies that reduce our consumption of energy or encourage the use of alternative fuels, and thus reduces our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

But the biggest challenge to realizing these energy savings is getting these technologies out of the laboratory and into the marketplace where they can benefit all energy end users. Whether we are talking about a business owner, a homeowner, or a county or local government official, these energy end users may be hesitant to embrace advanced or alternative energy technologies with which they may not be familiar, have little experience or which may require new infrastructure.

The risk of investing in new energy technologies is just too great compared to conventional energy technologies, and getting information on the latest, greatest energy technologies can just be too costly or time-consuming.

That is why section 917 of EPACT of 2005 directed the Department of Energy to create a geographically dispersed network of energy efficient technology transfer centers. The purpose of these centers is to transfer and provide education on energy efficiency and distribute clean energy technologies developed by DOE and at the national laboratories to energy end users.

The bill we are considering today, H.R. 85, the Energy Technology Transfer Act, would simply improve section 917 of EPACT. Instead of creating from scratch this network of centers, H.R. 85 would authorize the DOE to provide grants to and partner with existing community outreach networks. These existing networks could include cooperative extension system offices, State energy offices, local governments, institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations with expertise in energy technologies or outreach.

The Cooperative Extension Service and similar community outreach networks have a long and successful history of transferring knowledge about new technologies and techniques to farmers and other constituencies. However, few have the resources to focus on energy efficiency outside of the agriculture center. H.R. 85 would change that and would build on the successful model of the ag extension service without creating any new entity or bureaucracy.

H.R. 85 still demands the same requirements of these centers. They must be geographically dispersed; they must coordinate regional resource engineering and business expertise; and they must help apply energy technologies and methods suitable to local climate. But instead of limiting these centers to the transfer of energy technologies, H.R. 85 would expand their mission to include all advanced energy technologies.

In addition to requiring grant recipients to demonstrate results or risk losing their grant, H.R. 85 would require grantees to provide feedback to DOE on the research needs related to the production, storage or use of energy identified by energy end users. It would also encourage grant recipients to work with utilities to carry out informational activities for energy end users.

H.R. 85 prohibits grant recipients from using grants funding to construct facilities to house the tech transfer center. It doesn't authorize any funding that isn't already authorized in EPACT. In other words, this bill contains no new funding. Instead, it simply gives new guidance and direction to the Secretary about how to bolster the Department's technology transfer capacity.

I just want to give you one example from Chicago about how this program might work and its potential to save energy through the deployment of advanced energy technologies.

Before expanding their frozen pizza production plant in Woodridge, Illinois, Home Run Inn Pizza consulted with the University of Illinois Chicago's Energy Resource Center. After conducting an assessment of the plant and its operations, the UIC Energy Resource Center identified nine ways Home Run Inn Pizza could reduce their energy consumption and energy costs. Using advanced energy technologies developed as a result of DOE's funded research, Home Run Inn Pizza could reduce natural gas consumption by 13 percent and energy consumption by 5 to 6 percent, saving a total of over $15,000 annually.

Because of resource limitations, the UIC Energy Resource Center will help 12 companies in this way in fiscal year 2007, saving each on the average 15 percent of its energy budget and providing a return on investment within 2 years.

With passage of H.R. 85, the UIC Energy Resource Center and other cooperative extension and community outreach organizations could add the capacity and expertise to help many, many more companies, building managers, home builders and homeowners use technology to save energy and money.

I want to conclude by thanking the bill's chief cosponsor, my friend and colleague from North Carolina (Mr. Miller) for his strong interest in tech transfer and this legislation in particular. As we have worked with the majority to improve this legislation, his input has been invaluable. I also want to thank Chairman Gordon for recognizing the value of this legislation and moving it expeditiously through the committee. I want to thank Ranking Member Hall for his assistance as well.

Finally, I want to thank the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges and a long list of its members for their strong support of this bill. This bill represents just a small investment in the tech transfer capabilities we need to help our universities and labs move advanced energy technologies from the labs into the markets so Americans can enjoy the tangible benefits of our Federal investment in R&D.

I urge my colleagues to support this bill.

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