President Bush Signs New Energy Bill

January 1, 2008

Stripped down considerably from earlier versions, a new energy bill passed both Houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bush on December 18, 2007. The Energy Security and Independence Act of 2007 primarily focuses on automobile fuel economy, with additional provisions for more efficient appliances and lighting, as well as some steps designed to increase efficiency of government and commercial buildings.

A version of the bill passed by the House of Representatives earlier in December included an extension of tax credits for energy efficient improvements in homes established in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. That extension fell by the wayside, however, when the bill went to the Senate. As a result, the tax credits for more energy efficient windows and doors scheduled to expire as of December 31, 2007, have indeed expired.

The bill may have some impact on the window and door industry, as it includes requirements for significant upgrades in the energy efficiency of federal buildings. It also authorizes a Commercial Building Initiative, combining research, development and deployment of new commercial buildings that would use energy efficiency and clean energy sources to produce zero greenhouse gas emissions, according to the Alliance to Save Energy.

In signing the bill, President Bush described it as “a major step toward reducing our dependence on oil, confronting global climate change, expanding the production of renewable fuels and giving future generations of our country a nation that is stronger, cleaner and more secure.”

The legislation raises Corporate Average Fuel Economy, or CAFE, standards from the current average of about 25 miles per gallon for passenger cars, light trucks and SUVs to 35 mpg by 2020, saving consumers $22 billion in 2020 and reducing U.S. oil consumption by 1.1 million barrels per day in 2020—half of what the U.S. currently imports from the Persian Gulf, ASE points out. The new standards also will cut greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 28 million of today’s cars off the road.

The new law could phase out the incandescent light bulb, as new lighting standards are likely to produce a shift toward compact fluorescents and LEDs.