Hoeven Addresses the National Energy Efficiency Forum

Senator Addresses Energy Efficiency, the Other Part of the Equation for Securing National Energy Independency

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven Thursday addressed the 25th annual national Energy Efficiency Forum, telling a group of leaders in the field that energy efficiency is “the low-hanging fruit, the one area in our public discourse on energy that appeals to almost everyone’s common sense.”

Hoeven is a cosponsor of the bipartisan Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, legislation introduced by Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jean Shaheen (D-N.H.), and author of two key provisions in the bill.

Hoeven authored the All-of-the-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act and the Water Heater Efficiency Act.

The All-Of-The-Above Federal Building Energy Conservation Act would improve the energy efficiency of federal buildings but not limit the kind of energy used, allowing the use of efficient fuels like natural gas. The bill repeals a section of a 2007 energy bill that mandated federal buildings reduce reliance on fossil fuels, with 100 percent elimination of all fossil fuels by 2030.

The Department of Energy has yet to implement a final rule on this section, which prompted concerns that the requirement is unworkable, in addition to concerns that the rule stifles innovation, discourages energy efficiency renovations and unnecessarily raises costs for the federal government.

The Hoeven amendment to Shaheen-Portman replaces the problematic section and extends current energy efficiency targets from a 30 percent reduction by 2015 to a 45 percent reduction by 2020. The legislation also ensures that alterations and additions to federal buildings meet minimum energy efficiency requirements, encourage the use of energy management systems and provide for those systems’ proper operation.

“Our legislation takes a common-sense, all-of-the-above approach to the issue of federal energy efficiency,” Hoeven said. “Instead of prohibiting the use of fossil fuels in new federal buildings, we should rely on all of our available energy resources. By encouraging the use of innovative technologies and practices, instituting reasonable goals and allowing building managers flexibility, we can achieve better environmental stewardship in a cost-effective manner.”

Hoeven’s second amendment to the Shaheen-Portman energy conservation bill is the Water Heater Efficiency Act. The legislation would enable rural electric power cooperatives and their members to continue using large, energy-efficient water heaters in “demand response” conservation programs.

The legislation comes in reaction to new Department of Energy (DOE) rules that would phase out such water heaters by 2015; however, the senator says the new rules do not take into account the value of these water heaters to both consumers and the electrical cooperatives that serve them throughout rural America.

“Conservation programs use energy thoughtfully and wisely, with multiple benefits,” Hoeven said. “Our water heater legislation saves consumers money, helps rural electric cooperatives optimize their energy management and benefits the environment because the water heaters in the program are required to be energy efficient. That’s good for consumers and good for the country.”

Hoeven last spoke to the group as governor almost a decade ago, and told the group that North Dakota was a very different place back then.

“At that time, we were the 9th largest oil and gas producing state in the nation. Per capita personal income was just 87 percent of the national average, and our population was at its nadir,” Hoeven said. “Nationally, our ability to meet our energy demand was at an all-time low in 2005, when the amount of energy produced domestically met just 69 percent of the nation’s demand. What a difference a decade makes.”

“Today, North Dakota is the fastest growing state in America. We’re the second largest energy producing state in the nation, our per capita income exceeds the national average, and last year our population was at an all-time high.”

“And nationally? A decade can make a big difference there, too: In 2013, the U.S. produced domestically about 84 percent of total U.S. energy demand. That’s an enormous step forward. We went from producing less than 70 percent of our need to 84 percent – in less than a decade.”