U.S. Senate Committee Takes Step Toward Aiding Nonprofits Tackle Energy Costs



Today, the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on several pieces of legislation designed to increase and support energy efficiency in the United States. Among the bills considered was the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act (S.600)-bipartisan legislation sponsored by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and developed in close partnership with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, which is spearheading a coalition of nonprofit groups supporting this legislation.

S.600 will create a new federal grants program to support nonprofits making energy efficiency improvements to their buildings. S.600 will thus enable America’s schools, youth centers, houses of worship, hospitals etc. to reduce their operating costs, lessen impact on the environment and bolster America’s energy independence. Under the proposal, $50 million would be authorized for Fiscal Years 2016-2020; nonprofits could apply for grants up to 50 percent of the total cost of the energy efficiency program-up to $200,000.

Also today, companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressmen Bob Dold (R-IL) and Matt Cartwright (D-PA).

According to the U.S. E.P.A., nonresidential buildings in the U.S. consume more than $200 billion annually in energy costs. The United States is also home to 4,000 Boys & Girls Clubs, 2,700 YMCAs, 2,900 nonprofit hospitals and more than 17,000 museums. These buildings also account for a significant portion of annual greenhouse gas emissions. Among the nonprofits in the United States, there are approximately 370,000 houses of worship and, according to the EPA, they collectively spend more than $3 billion dollars in annual energy costs.

In addition to the Orthodox Union, the coalition of groups supporting the Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act includes the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, National YMCA Association, National Council of Churches, Jewish Federations of North America, American Association of Museum Directors and others.

Orthodox Union Executive Director for Public Policy Nathan Diament submitted testimony to the Energy Committee in support of the legislation. Diament further stated:

“The Orthodox Union and our nonprofit coalition partners greatly appreciate the leadership of Senators Hoeven and Klobuchar as well as cosponsor Senators Blunt, Risch, Shatz and Stabenow for their promotion of this legislation. We also appreciate Energy Committee Chair Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell for including S.600 in the hearing today.

We thank Representives Dold and Cartwright for leading this important effort in the House of Representatives.
The Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act will deliver important support for America’s nonprofits, help them reduce their energy costs and better serve our communities.”

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