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Public Statements

Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of S. 2739, which includes the provisions of H.R. 85, a bill called the Energy Technology Transfer Act that I introduced with my Science and Technology Committee colleague from North Carolina (Mr. Miller). The House approved our bill by a vote of 395-1 back in March of last year. And this is so important, Mr. Speaker, that it is now before this House again, and I appreciate it.

Mr. Speaker, the Federal Government spends billions every year on energy-related research and development for our universities and national laboratories. The result is often new technologies that exponentially reduce our consumption of energy or encourage the use of alternative fuels and thus reduce 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're talking about a business owner, a homeowner, a county or local government officials, these energy end users may be hesitant to embrace advanced or alternative technologies with which they are not familiar, have little experience, or which may require new infrastructure.

To help energy end users embrace these new technologies, section 917 of the Energy Policy Act (EPACT) of 2005 directed the Department of Energy to create a geographically dispersed network of energy efficiency technology transfer centers to help in this process. This bill will simply improve that section 917 of EPACT, and instead of creating from scratch these network centers, H.R. 85 authorizes the DOE to provide grants to and partner with existing community outreach networks. These existing networks could include Cooperative Extension Systems--just like what we have seen with the farms--offices, State energy offices, local governments, institutions of higher education, and nonprofit organizations with expertise in energy technologies or outreach. And so instead of limiting these centers to the transfer of energy efficiency technologies, it also expands their mission to include all advanced energy technologies and requires grantees to provide feedback to DOE on the energy research needs identified by these energy end users.

I just want to give you one example of what I'm talking about in Chicago and how this program might work. Before expanding their frozen pizza production plant in 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 that the Home Run Inn Pizza could reduce their energy consumption and energy costs. Using advanced energy technologies developed as a result of the DOE-funded research, Home Run Inn Pizza could reduce natural gas consumption by 15 percent and electricity consumption by 5 to 6 percent, saving a total of about $15,000 annually.

So with the enactment of H.R. 85, the UIC Energy Resource Center and other cooperative extension and community outreach organizations could add capacity and expertise to help many, many companies, building managers, homebuilders and homeowners use the technology to save energy and money.

So the bill represents just a small investment in the tech transfer capabilities that we need to help our universities and labs move advanced energy technologies from labs into the market so Americans can enjoy the tangible benefits of our Federal investment in R&D.

I want to thank my colleague, Mr. Miller from North Carolina, for his strong interest in tech transfer and for being the lead Democrat on this bill. I want to thank Chairman Gordon and Ranking Member Hall for recognizing the value of this bill and moving it through the committee, Senators BINGAMAN and DOMENICI and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for approving this bill and including it in S. 2739. Finally, I want to thank the chairman and ranking member of the Natural Resources Committee and the House Republican and Democrat leadership for bringing this package of bills to the floor today and I urge my colleagues to support it.


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