WILMINGTON, Del. – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) applauded the President’s announcement Friday of an additional $2 billion goal for energy savings through the Administration’s Better Buildings Challenge. This successful initiative has used privately financed Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) and Utility Energy Services Contracts (UESCs) to fund cost-saving efficiency upgrades to federal buildings at no cost to taxpayers. Today’s announcement builds on an initial $2 billion in savings goal, first launched in 2011, and sets a new goal of an additional $2 billion over the next three years. This will bring the total invested in federal energy-efficiency improvements to $4 billion by 2017.
“Upgrading federal buildings for energy efficiency is a commonsense way to lower our nation’s energy bills and support American jobs," Senator Coons said. "Federal energy usage alone consumes billions in taxpayer dollars every year, and using existing technology to reduce those costs just makes sense. ESPCs and UESCs leverage private investment to make cost-saving efficiency upgrades without costing taxpayers a dime. This innovative model has already yielded billions in savings for the federal government and significantly reduced federal energy consumption. With the Senate once again hitting partisan gridlock trying to pass meaningful energy-efficiency legislation, I'm glad the Administration is continuing its commitment to energy efficiency by partnering with the private sector on this smart and effective initiative.”
In 2011, the President kicked off a two-year initiative to achieve $2 billion in energy savings in federal buildings. The 2011 executive order employed the use of ESPCs and UESCs to achieve energy savings in federal buildings. Under an ESPC or UESC, an energy services company or a utility negotiates a contract with a federal agency that specifies the amount of energy savings it will achieve through retrofits and other measures. The company or utility is then paid for its performance out of the savings it achieves rather than through appropriated funds.
Senator Coons introduced legislation in the Senate last July to push the federal government in the right direction by encouraging increased utilization of these contracts. The Energy Savings Through Public-Private Partnership Act would create a new goal for the federal government to enter into $1 billion a year in energy savings contracts over the next five years — for a total of $5 billion in savings. Senator Coons also introduced the legislation as an amendment to the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, known as “Shaheen-Portman,” during consideration by the Senate last September.
In November, Senator Coons wrote a letter signed by a bipartisan group of 28 senators urging President Obama to extend the initiative. The Senate letter complemented a similar House letter that had 118 bipartisan supporters. President Obama responded in early December, announcing plans to extend the program through 2016.