Bipartisan Energy Efficiency Legislation Introduced in U.S. Senate Includes Provision for Enhanced Energy Efficiency Mortgage Underwriting

March 1st, 2017 - Posted by Laurel Elam under RESNET News

The new 115th Congress is now underway. Despite the current great political divide in Washington, there is a glimmer of bipartisanship.

Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) have reintroduced the “Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act” (S. 385), better known as the Portman-Shaheen Act. Early co-sponsors of the bill are Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Chris Coons (D-DE), Al Franken (D-MN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

Portman-Shaheen was introduced in the previous three congresses with bipartisan support.  It passed the Senate in 2016 with the support of 80 senators but died late in the session due a conflicting version from the House.

Of particular interest is Section 423 of the bill, “Enhanced Energy Efficiency Underwriting”.  This section covers the previous SAVE Act.   The section requires that, “for all covered loans for which an energy efficiency report is voluntarily provided to the mortgagee by the mortgagor, the covered agency and the mortgagee shall take into consideration the estimated energy cost savings expected for the owner of the subject property in determining whether the loan applicant has sufficient income to service the mortgage debt plus other regular expenses.  … the expected energy cost savings shall be included as an offset to these expenses.”

The legislation specifically recognizes RESNET and HERS, stating that verification be “in accordance with the Residential Energy Service Network’s Home Energy Rating System (commonly known as ‘‘HERS’’) by an individual certified by the Residential Energy Service Network.”

Another section of interest is Section 303 “Budget-Neutral Demonstration Program for Energy and Water Conservation Improvements at Multifamily Residential Units”.

According to Senators Portman and Shaheen, a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) estimates that the bill “will create more than 190,000 jobs, save consumers $16.2 billion a year, and cut CO2 emissions and other air pollutants by the equivalent of taking 22 million cars off the road – all by 2030.”

Senator Portman stated that the “bill is a win-win, creating nearly 200,000 new jobs and protecting our environment – all without a single new tax or mandate.” Senator Shaheen stated that the bill is “good for our economy and good for our environment – that’s why it enjoys broad bipartisan support.”

For an one page summary of the legislation go to Summary of Portman–Shaheen Act

To download the entire bill go to Text of Portman-Shaheen Act

RESNET will track this critical piece of energy legislation as the 115th Congress progresses.

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