WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today passed The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which included a number of amendments offered by U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., that will increase energy efficiency and reliability in Vermont and nationwide. The Senate vote was 85 to 12. The bill will now go to a conference committee with the House. “We must do all that we can to lessen our dependence on foreign oil, as the recent spike in gas prices has shown us. The Senate’s energy bill will take us in the right direction, although there is still much more work to be done,” said Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “The Senate has gone a long way in making this a stronger energy bill and it is my hope that the amendments I have offered will be retained in conference,” he said. Jeffords’ amendments include a provision that will add livestock methane, a promising source of energy in Vermont, as an energy source that will be eligible to compete for grants under the Department of Energy’s Renewable Energy Incentives Program. A second Jeffords’ amendment will create a new $20 million per year grant program to upgrade electric transmission and distribution lines, which Jeffords noted was especially important in rural areas such as Lamoille County (see statement below). A third amendment will provide almost $100 million in tax incentives for recyclers over the next decade to preserve and expand our nation's recycling programs. The amendment will provide a 15 percent tax credit for equipment used in the processing and sorting of recyclable materials, and will increase the quantity and quality of recyclable materials collected. “This national investment is necessary to reverse the declining recycling rate of many consumer commodities, including aluminum, glass and plastic, which are near historic lows,” Jeffords said. It will also generate significant energy savings, he said, noting that increasing the US recycling rate to 35%, from the current 30%, will result in enough energy savings to meet the annual energy needs of an additional 2.4 million homes. “Energy policy is an important issue for America and one that my Vermont constituents take very seriously,” Jeffords said. “This bill is not perfect, but with the provisions that the Senate has added, which include a plan to increase renewable energy sources, we are making progress in addressing our critical energy needs.” -- 30 -- Below is the record statement Senator Jeffords offered on the electric reliability amendment he offered: Statement of Senator James M. Jeffords
Adoption of Jeffords Amendment 774,
The Electric Reliability Grants Amendment,
to H.R. 6, the Energy Bill
June 23, 2005 Mr. JEFFORDS. Mr. President, I want to thank Senators Domenici and Bingaman for adopting my amendment, number 774, as part of the Senate energy bill. The amendment authorizes up to $20 million a year for seven years for the establishment of a new Department of Energy grant program to aid local governments, municipal utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and not-for-profit agencies. The cost of repairing transmission lines is proving particularly difficult for small communities in Vermont and across America. I became interested in creating such a program due to the challenges that communities in my state are facing with respect to the upgrading and siting of transmission and distribution lines. For example, residents in Lamoille County, Vermont have been struggling to find ways to expand the transmission system to accommodate the demands of a growing tourism industry without overly burdening local residents with the cost of such an upgrade. Currently, the transmission system that delivers electricity to this area of my state is at peak capacity, leaving the local community in jeopardy should a single event, like a fallen power line or damage to a key piece of equipment, occur. Not only must communities afford the costs of the infrastructure itself, but also the costs of integrating these new technologies into the rural landscape in a way that does not destroy their scenic quality and protects their lifestyle. These grants will help rural communities meet these needs. They can be used for increasing energy efficiency, siting or upgrading transmission lines, or providing modernizing electric generating facilities to serve rural areas. Under the generation grants portion of the program preference will be given to renewable facilities such as wind, ocean waves, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydropower, livestock methane or geothermal energy. By adopting my legislation as part of this energy bill, small electric cooperatives and local governments in Lamoille County, Vermont will be eligible to apply for federal grants to construct new facilities and transmission upgrades. This is a good amendment and it should be retained by the conferees.