With Congress finishing up for the holiday break, several bills were addressed recently that will have an effect on energy efficiency. Chief among the changes implemented was the appropriation of money for the rest of the 2015 fiscal year for many federal departments, including a $25 million increase for the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Not all energy efficieny programs saw appropriation gains, however, with federal buildings, vehicles, and energy management programs seeing small cuts.
Also passed was the extension of energy efficiency tax credits, which were supposed to expire in December 2013 but will be extended to December 2014. Commercial buildings and residential improvements are included in the tax incentive program, with Congress declining to update qualification levels and leave the existing standards.
Coming close to being enacted but ultimately falling short was the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014, which would have promoted energy efficient improvements in rental properties, as well as commercial building energy benchmarking and disclosure. While the House has passed the bill, the Senate was looking for unanimous consent, which it did not receive and thus will need to reintroduce the bill next session.