Energy Legislation Passes in Senate Vote

Window & Door
April 21, 2016
Legal Alert

The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to pass the Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) by a vote of 85-12. This vote comes after the House of Representatives passed its energy bill last December (H.R. 8). The legislation makes several updates to the nation's energy policy.

An amendment backed by the Window and Door Manufacturers Association was agreed to before the final vote. The inclusion of the amendment coincided with a WDMA member advocacy push on Capitol Hill during the annual WDMA Legislative Conference held April 18-20, highlighting the impact of grassroots advocacy and its impact on legislation, the Association reports.

WDMA has been working for years in support of comprehensive energy efficiency legislation and sought to amend the Senate legislation with two key provisions impacting the window, door and skylight industry. The first amendment promoted by WDMA, which was adopted by the Senate by a vote of 66-31, directs the Federal Housing Administration to incorporate energy efficiency savings from products such as windows, doors and skylights when evaluating financial eligibility for an FHA-insured mortgage.
The second amendment sought by WDMA, which was not voted upon by the Senate but is contained in the House-passed version of the bill, defines what technical assistance the Department of Energy can provide in developing new model energy codes. It guarantees that certain products and technologies are not given preferential treatment.

This legislation promotes the development of efficiency targets for buildings that strike the proper cost-benefit balance, which, according to WDMA, ensures that homeowners and builders are not burdened by unreasonable regulations. It also would prevent DOE from supporting any code or standard change proposal that results in a payback of more than 10 years.
During the WDMA Legislative Conference in Washington, WDMA members met with their elected officials and discussed these issues in detail and successfully pushed the Senate to vote on and pass the amendment on energy efficiency in mortgage underwriting.
"WDMA member involvement and engagement with their lawmakers proved to be crucial in this effort," says Michael O'Brien, WDMA president and CEO. "When the industry works together, we can achieve progress in the policymaking arena, even when faced with Congressional gridlock. We would like to thank the sponsors of the legislation and all the industry representatives who contacted their senators."
With the House and Senate having passed their respective bills, a conference committee will soon be formed to reconcile them. Since the Senate did not include the building code language and the House did not include the FHA language, WDMA will continue to work with lawmakers to ensure both are included in the reconciled bill for final consideration.
"Our work is not yet done. We will still need WDMA members to remain engaged and active during the conference process," adds O'Brien.