Omnibus bill shows Congress behind energy efficiency


The 2018 omnibus spending bill, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, is seen to be good news for energy efficiency.

The bill, rejects cuts proposed by the administration, increases funding for energy efficiency programmes at the US Department of Energy (DOE) and maintains funding levels for efficiency programmes at the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Specifically, the bill maintains current funding levels for Energy Star, as well as SmartWay and other voluntary programs that give consumers and businesses the information they need to select energy-efficient products. EPA’s Ann Arbor laboratory, where all vehicle certification testing and standards development occurs, also appears to be level-funded.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy will see an 11% funding increase, with a bump in funding for almost all of the program offices.

The Advanced Manufacturing Office will see an 18% increase, while the Building Technologies and Vehicle Technologies Offices will each receive 10% more funding for the 2018 financial year.

The legislation also includes 10% increases for the Weatherisation Assistance Program—which helps low-income families and seniors make home improvements that improve energy efficiency and health, and the State Energy Program, which assists state governments make critical energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy security investments.

The bill cuts DOE’s Equipment and Building Standards Program, which saves families nearly $500 on their energy and water bills each year, by 7% (it also includes the Building Energy Codes Program).

The view is that with consistent investments in these critical programs, Congress can ensure that energy efficiency continues to cut energy waste, create jobs, drive economic growth, and save money for American families and businesses.