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House adopts sweeping energy legislation.

By a vote of 381-37 the House adopted comprehensive energy legislation (HR 776) that includes provisions to improve energy efficiency standards, restructure the wholesale electricity industry, and develop new power sources to take the place of oil.

With Senate action complete as well, the bills now move to conference committee where members will have to resolve a number of differences including transmission access and the use of alternative fuel fleets. Although no date has been set for conference committee action, it is expected that Congress will act swiftly on this legislation and send a comprehensive energy bill to President Bush this year.

The House bill, passed on May 27, requires states to update their residential building codes to achieve greater energy efficiency and includes a new set of efficiency standards for incandescent and fluorescent lamps, electric motors, shower heads, and heating and cooling equipment for commercial buildings.

Both the House and Senate (S 2166) bills amend the 1935 Public Utility Holding Company Act, making it easier for utilities and independent producers to compete in the wholesale electric power market. The House bill includes provisions that would guarantee independent power producers transmission access over utility-owned transmission lines. The Senate bill is silent on transmission access. However, Sen. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and sponsor of S 2166, has indicated that this issue will be addressed in conference.

Alternative Fuels

To promote the use of alternative fuels, the HR 776 aims to reduce the use of all conventional motor fuels by 10 percent by the year 2000 and 30 percent by 2010. If by 1998, the Department of Energy finds that the alternative fuel replacement goals are unlikely to be met, the secretary of energy may take action to implement a fleet requirement program on municipalities.

The Senate bill seeks to increase the use of alternative fuels by mandating the purchase of alternatively fueled vehicles, or conversion of existing vehicles to alternative fuels for all metropolitan statistical areas which have a 1980 Census population in excess of 250,000; own, operate, lease or control a total of 50 or more vehicles in the metropolitan area; and have 20 or more vehicles which are centrally fueled or capable of being centrally fueled. The purchase requirements for municipalities is 30 percent of new purchases in 1998, 50 percent of new purchases by 1999, and 70 percent of new purchases in the year 2000. Law enforcement, emergency, construction and farm vehicles and fleet vehicles garaged at personal residences are exempted from these requirements.
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Author:Yamane, Sandra
Publication:Nation's Cities Weekly
Date:Jun 8, 1992
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