ESPC advocates have Congressional allies

Advocates of Energy Savings Performance Contracts have allies in Congress in the 35-member House Energy Savings Performance Caucus, led in the new Congress by Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.

Welch created the caucus in 2012 alongside Rep. Cory Gardner, R-Colo. Kinzinger replaces Gardner, who was elected to the Senate, as co-chair. The caucus will advocate for ESPCs and Utility Energy Service Contracts at federal departments and agencies, according to a statement from Welch's office.

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The contracts are forms of share-in-savings contracts. Contractors perform work on federal facilities designed to save on energy costs. The companies cover the costs and risks of the work, and are paid a share of the money their work has saved.

Welch welcomed his new co-chair to the role. "Rep. Kinzinger brings to this position the credentials of a widely respected leader on energy efficiency issues. I am pleased to partner with him in pursuit of our Caucus goal of saving taxpayer dollars by cutting the energy bills at federal agencies," Welch said.

"The federal government is the single largest consumer of energy in the U.S. Making our energy consumption more efficient not only saves taxpayer money and reduces a huge amount of waste, but it also sets an example for other organizations, said Kinzinger. "I'm proud to spearhead this effort and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the 114th Congress."

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In 2011 President Obama asked agencies to enter into $2 billion in ESPCs, citing the advantages of funding projects without using appropriated money. In 2014, he doubled that amount to a goal of $4 billion by the end of 2016.

The Energy Department is preparing a new IDIQ that will follow its current ESPC contract, due to expire in 2016, said Timothy Unruh, director of the department's Federal Energy Management Program. He expects a request for proposal to come out sometime early this year, with awards to follow near the end of 2015.

Agencies are becoming aware of the value of renewable energy in their efficiency efforts, Unruh said in an earlier interview. While there is still much activity around heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, lighting and energy management, the interest in providing a renewable component is growing.

"Agencies have a couple of reasons for adding to their renewable component or maybe even their on-site generation component," Unruh said. "One is that there is presently a mandate for federal facilities to use 20 percent of their energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. So, performance-based contracts can be used to help supply that goal. In addition, a lot of sites are concerned about energy security. You can used a performance-based contract to enhance energy security if on-site generation was installed as part of that — in particular, a combined heat power plant could help in energy security."

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