SMACNA Urges Congress to Increase Industrial Efficiency; Endorses Manufacturing Retrofit Grant Legislation
SMACNA has endorsed S. 1501, The Job Creation Through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act of 2014, introduced by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon). Senator Merkley, a SMACNA ally on a long list of industry priority issues, has introduced his stand-alone legislation as a bill (S. 1501) and as a pending amendment to the Shaheen-Portman Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013 (S.1392) now awaiting its return to the Senate floor. S. 1501 would establish an innovative energy-efficient manufacturing finance program to retrofit manufacturing, industrial and related facilities for greater productivity and competitiveness. While benefitting from favorable loan and matching grant terms, program recipients would be required to observe prevailing wage standards in construction contracts financed with program funding.
By providing funds to states for the creation or expansion of programs that support energy-efficient retrofits and onsite renewable technologies in the industrial sector, the Merkley bill (S. 1501), would promote greater deployment of energy efficiency technologies in the industrial sector, helping manufacturers cut costs and become more globally competitive. The industrial sector uses over 30 percent of all energy consumed in the U.S.—more than any other sector—so the opportunity for greater efficiency and job creation is extensive. Furthermore, energy research reports by McKinsey and Company have documented that the industrial sector leads all efficiency opportunities with 40 percent of cost-effective energy efficiency potential in the U.S. economy achievable by 2020. Though cost-effective, only one out of five U.S. companies has invested in industrial energy efficiency in the past three years, with many citing financing as a barrier, despite 88 percent of corporate executives recognizing energy efficiency as a critical success factor for their business over the next 20 years, according to a 2011 Economist Business Intelligence Unit study.
Senator Merkley, working closely with SMACNA and others in the skilled construction sector introduced S. 1501 to respond to small- and medium-sized manufacturers currently challenged to finance energy efficient retrofit and technological investments. The credit support, credit enhancement and favorable credit financing terms featured in the Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act represents a significant lifeline for manufacturers seeking to make necessary reductions to facility energy waste as well as increase productivity. S. 1501 would resolve many of the financial challenges facing these manufacturers, thus facilitating significant investments in energy efficiency, combined heat and power and waste heat recovery.