Spotlight: Representatives Burgess and Welch Show Support of Energy Efficiency
The Alliance to Save Energy is privileged to have 17 influential Members of Congress serving as honorary members of our Board of Directors. Through their strong leadership, the Alliance has continued to advocate for the advancement of energy efficiency to achieve a healthier economy, a cleaner environment, and energy security. In this series, we will highlight the excellent work of our Honorary Vice-Chairs and the states they represent. This fourth installment highlights the work of two passionate efficiency advocates from the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Michael Burgess from Texas and Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont.
Representative Michael Burgess (R-Tx.-26)
Before becoming a member of the House of Representatives, Congressman Burgess served the public as a doctor in Northern Texas. In 2002, he ran for office and has since been elected for six consecutive terms. As a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Burgess has demonstrated his commitment to advancing energy efficiency and is a firm believer that energy efficiency can help to achieve economic progress and security, as well as environmental protection. Due to his involvement in energy efficiency, Rep. Burgess was elected to serve as an Honorary Vice-Chair to the Alliance to Save Energy’s Board of Directors in 2010.
In order to increase domestic energy productivity, and therefore achieve energy independence, Rep. Burgess supports expanding EnergySTAR programs and more efficient alternative fuel vehicles. He voted in favor of H.R.2126 – the Energy Efficiency Improvement Act of 2014, which combines several other pieces of legislation to cover energy efficiency in areas like the federal government, grid-enabled water heaters and building consumption. In addition to his work in the House, Burgess has expanded his efforts to his home district, where he hosts an annual Energy Efficiency and Conservation Summit and Fair and has even made energy efficient upgrades to his own home. Rep. Burgess recently spoke about the benefits of energy efficiency for Texas and the need for greater energy security at the Alliance’s Energy 2030 On the Road: Forth Worth event.
Historically, Texas has been at the forefront of energy efficiency initiatives, as it was the first state to implement an energy efficiency resource standard. Texas’ state government has established several measures to promote energy efficiency, including LoanSTAR, a program that finances efficiency improvements and investments for institutional buildings, such as schools and hospitals. As of August 2014, LoanSTAR has provided over 240 loans worth over $400 million. The Texas State Energy Conservation Office also offers various energy savings performance contracts to state agencies and universities. Recently, Texas state energy efficiency initiatives have focused on building codes. In 2011, all residential and commercial buildings were required to meet IECC-2009 standards, but the mandate was updated a year later to require all single-family residences to comply with the 2009 International Residential Codes standards.
Representative Peter Welch (D-Vt.-At Large)
Representative Welch has enjoyed a long and productive career in public service, starting with his election to the Vermont State Senate, where he served from 1980 to 1988 and again from 2002 to 2006. In 2006, Rep. Welch was successfully elected as Vermont’s lone Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives and, a position he has held since. Rep. Welch is currently a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and in this position, has worked as a strong proponent of energy efficiency legislation and other environmental issues. Energy efficiency, according to Welch, is a crucial part of developing a “new energy future”, as a means of addressing climate change and saving energy costs to benefit consumers. Rep. Welch is also a Co-Chair and Founder of the House High Performance Buildings Caucus along with fellow Alliance Vice-Chair Rep. McKinley. For his dedication to energy efficiency, Rep. Welch was appointed as an Alliance Honorary Vice-Chair in 2013.
Throughout his time in the House, Rep. Welch has introduced several bills pertaining to energy efficiency, including being an original co-sponsor on H.R. 2126. Most recently, he and Representative Lujan (D-N.M.-3) introduced H.R.5301 - the American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act, which would institute energy efficiency resource standards for natural gas and electricity suppliers, potentially reducing carbon emissions by 480 million metric tons by 2025 and creating 400,000 jobs. In the past year, Rep. Welch also sponsored H.R.1659 - the Federal Buildings Energy Savings Act of 2013, and H.R.3772 - the Home Heating and Cooling Efficiently Act. In addition to heading his own legislation, Rep. Welch has also cosponsored H.R.4092 - the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act, which passed the House in June and was modeled after Vermont’s own initiative to make schools more energy efficient.
As evidenced by the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act, Vermont is considered a leader in energy efficiency and its energy efficiency policies frequently inspire similar initiatives in other states and at the federal level. Rep. Welch has drawn on successful energy efficiency programs in Vermont to craft national programs, such as the Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance program, which was included in H.R.2454 – the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.This year, Vermont was ranked third in ACEEE’s 2014 Energy Efficiency Scorecard, with its state utility policies receiving particularly high ratings. Vermont was the first state to establish an “energy efficiency utility” and works with organizations such as Efficiency Vermont to provide consumers with energy efficiency incentives and resources, with the overall effect of high monetary and energy savings. Vermont also has strong building codes, requiring that commercial and residential properties meet IECC 2009 codes and 2012 amendments. In accordance with Vermont statutes, these codes must be updated every three years, and thus, are in the process of being made even stronger, to comply with 2015 IECC codes.
We at the Alliance consider ourselves fortunate to have such strong proponents for energy efficiency as our Honorary Vice-Chairs. We honor them for their tireless support of energy efficiency and look forward to future collaboration as we continue to work to advance the goal of doubling our nation’s energy productivity by 2030.