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Action Alert
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Sometime between today and this Thursday, the Senate plans to hold a vote on S. 2012, the "Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015." Section 1004 of the bill would create a nonprofit energy efficiency grant program. Prior to Thursday, please take a quick moment and contact your Senators to urge them to vote in favor of S. 2012 with the provision included.

The Energy Policy Modernization Act (S. 2012) was introduced in the United States Senate by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) in September of 2015. The bill is expected to come before the full Senate for approval as soon as February 1, 2016.

Section 1004 of S. 2012 incorporates the provisions of the "Nonprofit Energy Efficiency Act" (S. 600), which was introduced in the United States Senate by Senators John Hoeven (R-ND) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) in February of 2015. Section 1004 would establish a new pilot program at the U.S. Department of Energy to provide financial grants to nonprofit organizations to help make buildings they own and operate more energy efficient. Original cosponsors included Senators Blunt, Risch, Stabenow and Schatz.

Section 1004 will enable America's schools, youth centers, houses of worship, hospitals and other nonprofit institutions to reduce their operating costs, lessen impact on the environment and bolster America's energy independence. Under the proposal, $50 million would be authorized for Fiscal Years 2016-2020; nonprofits could apply for grants up to 50% of the total cost of the energy efficiency program-up to $200,000. The legislation contains an offset from other DoE program resources.

Staggering Energy and Environmental Costs:
According to the U.S. E.P.A.- nonresidential buildings in the U.S. consume more than $200 billion annually in energy costs. The United States is also home to 4000 Boys & Girls Clubs, 2700 YMCAs, 2,900 nonprofit hospitals and more than 17,000 museums. These buildings also account for a significant portion of annual greenhouse gas emissions.

Among nonprofits in the United States, there are approximately 370,000 houses of worship and, according to the EPA, they collectively spend more than $3 billion dollars in annual energy costs.

Limited Access to Other Incentive/Support Programs:
Many of the energy efficiency incentive or support programs that have been in place the past several years have been structured in the form of tax credits and rebates. Nonprofits - being tax exempt entities - have not been able to take advantage of these programs. Moreover, nonprofit entities are often least able to surmount the "front end" investment cost of efficiency retrofits.

Economic and Social Benefits:
Based on its "Green Congregations" project, the EPA estimates that these congregations could cut their energy costs by 1/3 and thus have nearly $1 billion to spend on their programs and services. S.717 would also be a catalyst for job creation as nonprofits would finally be able to undertake deferred projects such as replacing outdated HVAC systems and inefficient doors and windows. A White House task force has also recognized that energy efficiency improvement undertaken by nonprofits will also have ripple effects by inspiring and influencing their members and beneficiaries to do the same in their homes and businesses.

BROAD COALITION OF SUPPORT (Coalition in formation)
Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
National Council of Churches
The Jewish Federations of North America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
General Conference of Seventh Day Adventists
YMCA Association of the U.S.A.
Interfaith Power & Light
Association of Art Museum Directors
The Salvation Army National Headquarters

For further information, please contact Robert Goldberg, Senior Director, Legislative Affairs at 202-736-5881or rob.goldberg@jewishfederations.org.