5/08/2014 — 

 Mr. REED. Mr. President, I rise today to express my support for the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act.

   While there is much more to be done on energy issues, we have an opportunity with this bill to make strides in increasing energy efficiency across many sectors of our economy--from schools and homes to commercial buildings, industry, and manufacturing.

   I commend my colleagues, Senators Shaheen and Portman, for their tireless efforts to craft a bipartisan energy efficiency bill that has the support of a diverse range of businesses and environmental and labor groups. This demonstrates the broad consensus that being smarter about how we use energy will help strengthen our economy, create jobs, improve our energy security, and protect our environment. Investing in a cleaner, more efficient energy system is one of the fastest, most cost-effective ways to increase our global competitiveness, support job growth, and save families and businesses money through improved efficiency and reduced energy consumption.

   I have been particularly focused on addressing the burden of high energy costs on families and businesses in my home State of Rhode Island. One of the most pressing, far-reaching, and complex challenges we face in Rhode Island is the high cost of energy to power and heat homes and businesses. Rhode Island and the New England region face significant energy transmission and distribution challenges, which results in consumers and businesses in the region experiencing some of the highest, most volatile energy costs in the country. These high energy costs are hurting Rhode Island families and businesses, threatening the growth of our economy, and reducing our competitiveness.

   After paying their monthly home energy bills, Rhode Island families, who have been hit particularly hard during this period of high unemployment, are left with few resources to meet other basic needs. High energy costs also place Rhode Island businesses, manufactures, and industrial users at a competitive disadvantage.

   To revitalize Rhode Island's rich manufacturing history, we must find ways to lower energy costs.

   These were among the issues explored when I welcomed Secretary Moniz to Providence last month as part of the Administration's outreach on the Quadrennial Energy Review. Secretary Moniz had the opportunity to hear directly from Rhode Islanders impacted by high energy costs and engage in a dialogue of potential solutions.

   While I continue working with my New England colleagues to find long-term solutions to ensure an affordable, cleaner, and more reliable energy system for the region, one of the things we can do to help families and businesses in our States right now is to pass the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill.

   Addressing the existing energy infrastructure constraints in New England is just one piece of the puzzle. Energy efficiency will also be an important tool in reducing demand, lowering energy costs, and addressing and maintaining the reliability of our energy system.

   Improved efficiency not only saves families and businesses directly on their energy bills, but by also reducing demand, it helps to alleviate stress on the power system and can help mitigate volatile price spikes in the New England region, as we witnessed over the last several months.

   I would also like to take a moment to speak about an amendment I have joined Senators Coons and Collins in filing to this bill to reauthorize the Weatherization Assistance Program. I, along with Senator Collins, yearly lead the fight in the Senate for funding for the Weatherization and State Energy Programs. This amendment would reauthorize and enhance these two well-established, cost-effective energy programs that support jobs, contribute to the Nation's economic recovery, and help meet important goals, such as improving energy efficiency and lowering energy costs.

   I know that we have many supporters of the Weatherization and State Energy Programs here in the Senate, and I look forward to continuing to work with each of you to ensure that these important programs remain successful in improving energy efficiency, creating jobs, and reducing the overall cost of heating and powering our homes and businesses.

   While we should certainly do much more to advance our national energy policy--and I hope that we can take greater steps very soon--I urge my colleagues to join me now in supporting the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill.

   I once again commend those two Senators for their extraordinarily thoughtful, conscientious, and determined leadership. Now we must follow their example and pass this legislation.