Hoeven, Klobuchar Reintroduce Their Water Heater Efficiency Act

WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and a bipartisan group of senators today reintroduced their Water Heater Efficiency Act, an energy conservation bill that would enable rural electric power cooperatives and their members to continue using large, energy-efficient water heaters in “demand response” conservation programs.

The legislation addresses the Department of Energy’s (DOE) plan to phase out such water heaters by 2015. The senators, however, say 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.

Demand-response programs use off-peak electricity to conserve energy and reduce costs to consumers. The programs also help electrical cooperatives to manage load during periods of peak demand. Additionally, in areas where wind and solar are in the energy mix, the programs can help integrate renewable energy into the grid by enabling power to be stored under conditions when renewable sources are not producing power.

Specifically, the bill would allow the continued manufacture of large “grid-enabled” electric-resistance water heaters only for use in electric thermal storage or demand response programs. It would also require “grid-enabled water heaters” to have a volume of more than 75 gallons, be energy efficient and work on grids that have a demand response program.

“It makes no sense to force rural electric cooperatives to abandon practices and technologies that are working to conserve energy and save consumers money,” Hoeven said. “Our water heater legislation is a double win: it allows the coops to continue what they’re doing for consumers, and it benefits the environment because the water heaters in the program are required to be energy efficient.”

“Rural electric cooperatives play a crucial role in powering farms and small businesses across rural Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “Our commonsense, bipartisan bill will help ensure that these providers are able to continue delivering electricity to rural communities throughout our state that are boosting our economy and moving Minnesota forward.”