05/08/2013 06:05 pm ET Updated Jul 08, 2013

Moving Forward With Senators Shaheen and Portman's Common-sense Energy Efficiency Legislation

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this Wednesday will vote on S. 761, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act, a bipartisan energy efficiency bill introduced in April by Senators Jeanne Shaheen, Democrat of New Hampshire, and Rob Portman, Republican of Ohio. These senators put aside partisan politics and created common-sense legislation that will help American families and businesses across the country save money and use less energy. Along the way, it will create more private-sector jobs, reduce global warming pollution, and decrease our dependence on oil.

Our homes and businesses use more electricity than many of us realize. According to the Energy Information Administration at the Department of Energy, industrial and residential buildings currently account for 72 percent of this country's electricity usage. That means even a few simple changes could help our nation become dramatically more energy efficient while offering immediate benefits to millions of business owners and consumers across the country.

Energy efficiency isn't just about choosing the right appliances for our home, it also includes cost-effective steps like weatherization. When you weatherize your home, you're not just keeping your house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter, you're cutting down on the amount of energy that seeps out of older windows and doors, and decreasing the amount of energy you use on a daily basis. As homes and businesses become more energy efficient, consumers will see more money in their pocket books and a decrease in their electric bills.

This legislation won't just decrease electric bills in the short-term, it's also good for our economy in the long run. This bipartisan bill provides additional long-term savings by helping factories reduce their energy consumption -- creating manufacturing and construction jobs -- and spurring investments in research and development of new energy efficient technologies.

Senators Shaheen and Portman have drafted a bill that not only asks consumers to become more energy-efficient but also asks the same of our government. The federal government is the largest energy consumer in the nation, so having an energy efficient government is good policy that saves taxpayer dollars.

The great thing about commonsense energy efficiency legislation like this is that it's not only good for consumers and businesses, it's good for our environment too. By cutting down on the wasted energy that's being used every day, this legislation would help combat the climate crisis, which is the challenge of our generation.

Associations and senators from both parties recognize that this commonsense bill will put the United States on the path towards a more energy efficient economy. It has already garnered widespread support from groups ranging from the National Association of Manufacturers to the Natural Resources Defense Council and from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. Several key Senators have also expressed support for this bill, including Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Senators Shaheen and Portman have written a strong bipartisan bill that would increase energy efficiency, save consumers money, and help grow our economy. The American people expect Washington to work together to pass commonsense legislation like this to move our energy sector forward. Republicans and Democrats in Washington should be able to agree on energy efficiency as a common policy objective. We hope that senators will not try to amend the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act with provisions attacking other energy efficiency and environmental laws, and we are counting on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to pass this bill out of committee with strong bipartisan support.