WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, delivered a speech on the Senate floor in support of S. 1392, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, a bipartisan energy efficiency bill introduced by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio).
Below are Senator Heinrich's remarks:
I want to commend Senator Shaheen and Senator Portman for their work to bring this legislation to the floor. And I want to thank Chairman Wyden and Ranking Member Murkowski for their leadership on this issue in the Energy Committee as well.
Fully half of all the energy we use in this great country is wasted. That is a fact we can no longer ignore.
Each one of us is able to make changes in our daily lives to increase our energy efficiency. There is no kilowatt-hour more valuable than the one you don't use in the first place. But it's clear that we need to do more than simply turning off the lights when we leave the house, to be a leader in the world in this field.
As the largest energy consumer in the United States, the Federal government has not only an obligation, but also an opportunity to lead by example when it comes to its energy performance. We know buildings are the largest energy consumers in the United States today. Accounting for over 40% of our use, they offer the greatest opportunities for energy savings.
Over the summer, I had the opportunity and privilege of joining the Department of Energy in presenting the Brackish Groundwater National Desalination Research Facility, an important research facility in New Mexico, my home state.
We presented them with the Better Buildings Award on behalf of the Department of Energy to encourage significant reductions in energy usage in federal buildings all across the country. Reductions above and beyond current codes and mandates that exist.
What the team at the Desalination Research Facility accomplished was truly impressive and an example of just what is possible with legislation like this.
They were able to save approximately 300,000 kilowatt-hours per year... an annual saving of $42,000. That's a remarkable 53.6% of their former energy footprint--at a time when research at the facility was actually increasing. They did this through thoughtful analysis, by implementing both active and passive techniques, and a capital investment of not even $800.
So with $800, and some engineering expertise, this facility was able to save the taxpayers over $40,000 last year, $40,000 next year, $40,000 the year after that and into the future. That is a window into why this legislation is so important.
I'd also like to touch on another area of rapid energy innovation relevant to this bill -- the lighting sector. Lighting consumes 22 percent of United States electricity and $50 billion per year from U.S. consumers.
In Albuquerque, Sandia National Laboratories is accelerating advances in solid-state lighting--or SSL--a rapidly evolving technology with the potential to reduce energy consumption in lighting by a factor of 3 to 6 times.
You might have seen some of the new solid-state lights if you've been to Home Depot or Lowe's or your locally owned hardware store. These light bulbs are so efficient that when I was installing a couple in my son's bedroom a few weeks ago, you could literally put your hand on the light bulb because they make such good use of the energy they use.
Sandia's Solid-State Lighting Science Center is exploring energy conversion in tailored photonic structures. Drawing on their long history of SSL research and development, and working closely with its university and industry partners, Sandia National Labs is working to understand the mechanisms and defects in SSL semiconductor materials that presently limit their performance. Sandia is also investigating the conversion of electricity to light using radically new designs. Things like luminescent nanowires, quantum dots, and hybrid architectures.
This is progress, driven by basic research and science--the kind of investments that have made our nation great.
The Shaheen-Portman bill will spur the use of energy efficiency technologies, like these, where we all live and work. And in turn, we will lower utility bills for consumers and save taxpayer dollars.
Furthermore, this bipartisan bill will strengthen U.S. competitiveness by stimulating significant research and development investments in manufacturing innovation and productivity.
Investing in energy efficiency is one of the fastest and most cost-effective ways we can grow our economy. It's estimated that this measure alone would create 136,000 new jobs by 2025. By 2030, the bill would net annual savings of $13 billion and lower CO2 emissions and other air pollutants by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road.
My home state of New Mexico is already capitalizing on a diversified but rapidly transforming energy sector and stands to benefit from leveraging investments in efficiency projects and innovative technologies.
Through American ingenuity, we can slow the effects of climate change and unleash the full potential of cleaner homegrown energy, creating a more stable, healthier nation for future generation of Americans.
So instead of transforming the debate on energy efficiency into another tired battle over Obamacare, I would urge my colleagues to embrace the fact that this bill represents the culmination of years of bipartisan work to craft a smart, effective energy bill with a very good chance of becoming law.
Now, I know when I go home and I've talked to many of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, one of the things that we hear the most right now is "Why can't you guys just get something done? Why can't you work on something together?"
This is an opportunity to show that we can still legislate, that we can come together on the things that we agree on, even while agreeing to disagree on many other issues.
Again, I want to thank Senator Shaheen and Senator Portman for working so tirelessly on this bill. I want to thank the Chair and Ranking Member of the Energy Committee for making it a priority and for all the senators in that committee who worked together on both sides of the aisle to see this move forward. I hope that as a senate, we will seize this opportunity.
And I would yield back my time.