S. 1657 (110th): Small Business Energy Efficiency Act of 2007

110th Congress, 2007–2009. Text as of Jun 19, 2007 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

II

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 1657

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

June 19, 2007

(for himself and Ms. Snowe) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

A BILL

To establish a small business energy efficiency program, and for other purposes.

1.

Short title; table of contents

(a)

Short title

This Act may be cited as the Small Business Energy Efficiency Act of 2007.

(b)

Table of contents

The table of contents of this Act is as follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.

Sec. 2. Findings.

Sec. 3. Definitions.

Sec. 4. Implementation of small business energy efficiency program.

Sec. 5. Small business energy efficiency.

Sec. 6. Small business telecommuting.

Sec. 7. Encouraging innovation in energy efficiency.

Sec. 8. Express loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

2.

Findings

Congress finds that:

(1)

Small business concerns represent roughly 50 percent of the economy of the United States, employing 50 percent of all private sector employees, and producing more than 50 percent of nonfarm private gross domestic product.

(2)

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that, based on data from the 2003 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey of the Department of Energy, small business concerns consume roughly 2,000,000,000,000 kBtu of energy per year, costing small business concerns approximately $29,000,000,000.

(3)

The Environmental Protection Agency estimate does not include additional energy that is used by small business concerns located outside of commercial buildings, such as home-based small business concerns. Additional, peer-reviewed research studies must be conducted to assess the amount of energy consumed by small business concerns.

(4)

A recent survey conducted by the National Small Business Association revealed that 75 percent of small business concerns believe that energy efficiency can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. And yet, only 33 percent of those small business concerns had successfully invested in energy efficiency programs for their businesses.

(5)

Small business concerns have demonstrated that they are capable of achieving realistic energy consumption reductions of 30 percent as a result of implementing the recommendations of targeted energy audits. These reductions have been demonstrated by clients of the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Centers and are supported by the national experience of the ENERGY STAR Small Business program of the Environmental Protection Agency.

(6)

Small business concerns are a source for the technological innovations at the heart of the effort to find a solution to the challenge of climate change and to establish energy independence for the United States.

(7)

On-bill financing arrangements, involving small business concerns, utilities, banks, and certified energy efficiency professionals, have demonstrated success in reducing energy usage by small business concerns across the country, and greater use of on-bill financing agreements should be encouraged.

(8)

Telecommuting represents an established method for reducing fuel consumption, and information regarding the benefits of telecommuting should be made available to owners of small business concerns.

3.

Definitions

In this Act—

(1)

the terms Administration and Administrator mean the Small Business Administration and the Administrator thereof, respectively;

(2)

the term association means the association of small business development centers established under section 21(a)(3)(A) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 648(a)(3)(A));

(3)

the term disability has the meaning given that term in section 3 of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12102);

(4)

the term electric utility has the meaning given that term in section 3 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (16 U.S.C. 2602);

(5)

the term on-bill financing means a low interest or no interest financing agreement between a small business concern and an electric utility for the purchase or installation of equipment, under which the regularly scheduled payment of that small business concern to that electric utility is not reduced by the amount of the reduction in cost attributable to the new equipment and that amount is credited to the electric utility, until the cost of the purchase or installation is repaid;

(6)

the term small business concern has the meaning given that term in section 3 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 636);

(7)

the term small business development center means a small business development center described in section 21 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 648);

(8)

the term telecommuting means the use of telecommunications to perform work functions under circumstances which reduce or eliminate the need to commute; and

(9)

the term veteran has the meaning given that term in section 101 of title 38, United States Code.

4.

Implementation of small business energy efficiency program

(a)

In general

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall promulgate final rules establishing the Government-wide program authorized under subsection (d) of section 337 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6307) that ensure compliance with that subsection by not later than 6 months after such date of enactment.

(b)

Plan

Not later than 90 days after the date of enactment of this Act, the Administrator shall publish a detailed plan regarding how the Administrator will—

(1)

assist small business concerns in becoming more energy efficient; and

(2)

build on the Energy Star for Small Business Program of the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency.

(c)

Assistant administrator for small business energy policy

(1)

In general

There is in the Administration an Assistant Administrator for Small Business Energy Policy, who shall be appointed by, and report to, the Administrator.

(2)

Duties

The Assistant Administrator for Small Business Energy Policy shall—

(A)

oversee and administer the requirements under this section and section 337(d) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6307(d)); and

(B)

promote energy efficiency efforts for small business concerns and reduce energy costs of small business concerns.

(d)

Reports

The Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship of the Senate and the Committee on Small Business of the House of Representatives an annual report on the progress of the Administrator in encouraging small business concerns to become more energy efficient, including data on the rate of use of the Small Business Energy Clearinghouse established under section 337(d)(4) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6307(d)(4)).

5.

Small business energy efficiency

(a)

Authority

The Administrator shall establish a Small Business Energy Efficiency Pilot Program (in this section referred to as the Efficiency Pilot Program) to provide energy efficiency assistance to small business concerns through small business development centers.

(b)

Small business development centers

(1)

In general

In carrying out the Efficiency Pilot Program, the Administrator shall enter into agreements with small business development centers under which such centers shall—

(A)

provide access to information and resources on energy efficiency practices, including on-bill financing options;

(B)

conduct training and educational activities;

(C)

offer confidential, free, one-on-one, in-depth energy audits to the owners and operators of small business concerns regarding energy efficiency practices;

(D)

give referrals to certified professionals and other providers of energy efficiency assistance who meet such standards for educational, technical, and professional competency as the Administrator shall establish; and

(E)

act as a facilitator between small business concerns, electric utilities, lenders, and the Administration to facilitate on-bill financing arrangements.

(2)

Reports

Each small business development center participating in the Efficiency Pilot Program shall submit to the Administrator and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency an annual report that includes—

(A)

a summary of the energy efficiency assistance provided by that center under the Efficiency Pilot Program;

(B)

the number of small business concerns assisted by that center under the Efficiency Pilot Program;

(C)

statistics on the total amount of energy saved as a result of assistance provided by that center under the Efficiency Pilot Program; and

(D)

any additional information determined necessary by the Administrator, in consultation with the association.

(3)

Reports to Congress

Not later than 60 days after the date on which all reports under paragraph (2) relating to a year are submitted, the Administrator shall submit to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship of the Senate and the Committee on Small Business of the House of Representatives a report summarizing the information regarding the Efficiency Pilot Program submitted by small business development centers participating in that program.

(c)

Eligibility

A small business development center shall be eligible to participate in the Efficiency Pilot Program only if that center is certified under section 21(k)(2) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 648(k)(2)).

(d)

Selection of participating State programs

(1)

Groupings

(A)

Selection of programs

The Administrator shall select the small business development center programs of 2 States from each of the groupings of States described in subparagraphs (B) through (K) to participate in the pilot program established under this section.

(B)

Group 1

Group 1 shall consist of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont, and Rhode Island.

(C)

Group 2

Group 2 shall consist of New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

(D)

Group 3

Group 3 shall consist of Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, the District of Columbia, and Delaware.

(E)

Group 4

Group 4 shall consist of Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

(F)

Group 5

Group 5 shall consist of Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

(G)

Group 6

Group 6 shall consist of Texas, New Mexico, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

(H)

Group 7

Group 7 shall consist of Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas.

(I)

Group 8

Group 8 shall consist of Colorado, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, and Utah.

(J)

Group 9

Group 9 shall consist of California, Guam, American Samoa, Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona.

(K)

Group 10

Group 10 shall consist of Washington, Alaska, Idaho, and Oregon.

(e)

Matching requirement

Subparagraphs (A) and (B) of section 21(a)(4) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 648(a)(4)) shall apply to assistance made available under the Efficiency Pilot Program.

(f)

Grant amounts

Each small business development center selected to participate in the Efficiency Pilot Program under subsection (d) shall be eligible to receive a grant in an amount equal to—

(1)

not less than $100,000 in each fiscal year; and

(2)

not more than $300,000 in each fiscal year.

(g)

Evaluation and report

The Comptroller General of the United States shall—

(1)

not later than 30 months after the date of disbursement of the first grant under the Efficiency Pilot Program, initiate an evaluation of that pilot program; and

(2)

not later than 6 months after the date of the initiation of the evaluation under paragraph (1), submit to the Administrator, the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship of the Senate, and the Committee on Small Business of the House of Representatives, a report containing—

(A)

the results of the evaluation; and

(B)

any recommendations regarding whether the Efficiency Pilot Program, with or without modification, should be extended to include the participation of all small business development centers.

(h)

Guarantee

The Administrator may guarantee the timely payment of a loan made to a small business concern through an on-bill financing agreement on such terms and conditions as the Administrator shall establish through a formal rule making, after providing notice and an opportunity for comment.

(i)

Authorization of appropriations

(1)

In general

There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section—

(A)

$5,000,000 for the first fiscal year beginning after the date of enactment of this Act; and

(B)

$5,000,000 for each of the 3 fiscal years following the fiscal year described in subparagraph (A).

(2)

Limitation on use of other funds

The Administrator may carry out the Efficiency Pilot Program only with amounts appropriated in advance specifically to carry out this section.

(j)

Termination

The authority under this section shall terminate 4 years after the date of disbursement of the first grant under the Efficiency Pilot Program.

6.

Small business telecommuting

(a)

Pilot program

(1)

In general

In accordance with this section, the Administrator shall conduct, in not more than 5 of the regions of the Administration, a pilot program to provide information regarding telecommuting to employers that are small business concerns and to encourage such employers to offer telecommuting options to employees (in this section referred to as the Telecommuting Pilot Program).

(2)

Special outreach to individuals with disabilities

In carrying out the Telecommuting Pilot Program, the Administrator shall make a concerted effort to provide information to—

(A)

small business concerns owned by or employing individuals with disabilities, particularly veterans who are individuals with disabilities;

(B)

Federal, State, and local agencies having knowledge and expertise in assisting individuals with disabilities, including veterans who are individuals with disabilities; and

(C)

any group or organization, the primary purpose of which is to aid individuals with disabilities or veterans who are individuals with disabilities.

(3)

Permissible activities

In carrying out the Telecommuting Pilot Program, the Administrator may—

(A)

produce educational materials and conduct presentations designed to raise awareness in the small business community of the benefits and the ease of telecommuting;

(B)

conduct outreach—

(i)

to small business concerns that are considering offering telecommuting options; and

(ii)

as provided in paragraph (2); and

(C)

acquire telecommuting technologies and equipment to be used for demonstration purposes.

(4)

Selection of regions

In determining which regions will participate in the Telecommuting Pilot Program, the Administrator shall give priority consideration to regions in which Federal agencies and private-sector employers have demonstrated a strong regional commitment to telecommuting.

(b)

Report to Congress

Not later than 2 years after the date on which funds are first appropriated to carry out this section, the Administrator shall transmit to the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship of the Senate and the Committee on Small Business of the House of Representatives a report containing the results of an evaluation of the Telecommuting Pilot Program and any recommendations regarding whether the pilot program, with or without modification, should be extended to include the participation of all regions of the Administration.

(c)

Termination

The Telecommuting Pilot Program shall terminate 4 years after the date on which funds are first appropriated to carry out this section.

(d)

Authorization of appropriations

There is authorized to be appropriated to the Administration $5,000,000 to carry out this section.

7.

Encouraging innovation in energy efficiency

Section 9 of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 638) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(z)

Encouraging innovation in energy efficiency

(1)

Federal agency energy-related priority

In carrying out its duties under this section to SBIR and STTR solicitations by Federal agencies, the Administrator shall—

(A)

ensure that such agencies give high priority to small business concerns that participate in or conduct energy efficiency or renewable energy system research and development projects; and

(B)

include in the annual report to Congress under subsection (b)(7) a determination of whether the priority described in subparagraph (A) is being carried out.

(2)

Consultation required

The Administrator shall consult with the heads of other Federal agencies and departments in determining whether priority has been given to small business concerns that participate in or conduct energy efficiency or renewable energy system research and development projects, as required by this section.

(3)

Guidelines

The Administrator shall, as soon as is practicable after the date of enactment of this subsection, issue guidelines and directives to assist Federal agencies in meeting the requirements of this section.

(4)

Definitions

In this subsection—

(A)

the term biomass

(i)

means any organic material that is available on a renewable or recurring basis, including—

(I)

agricultural crops;

(II)

trees grown for energy production;

(III)

wood waste and wood residues;

(IV)

plants (including aquatic plants and grasses);

(V)

residues;

(VI)

fibers;

(VII)

animal wastes and other waste materials; and

(VIII)

fats, oils, and greases (including recycled fats, oils, and greases); and

(ii)

does not include—

(I)

paper that is commonly recycled; or

(II)

unsegregated solid waste;

(B)

the term energy efficiency project means the installation or upgrading of equipment that results in a significant reduction in energy usage; and

(C)

the term renewable energy system means a system of energy derived from—

(i)

a wind, solar, biomass (including biodiesel), or geothermal source; or

(ii)

hydrogen derived from biomass or water using an energy source described in clause (i).

.

8.

Express loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

Section 7(a)(31) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. 636(a)(31)) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(F)

Express loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

(i)

Definitions

In this subparagraph, the terms energy efficiency project and renewable energy system have the meanings given those terms in section 9(z).

(ii)

Loans

Loans may be made under the Express Loan Program for the purpose of—

(I)

purchasing a renewable energy system; or

(II)

an energy efficiency project for an existing business.

.