Legislation

House OKs Efficiency Bill For Large Water Heaters

By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer Published: March 11th, 2014

Saving money for members is something electric cooperatives do well, and bipartisan legislation that cleared the House March 5 will keep co-ops on that path with the help of grid-enabled electric resistance water heaters, NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson told members of Congress.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., was a chief sponsor of legislation that would allow co-op use of electric resistance water heaters. (Photo By: Cathy Cash)

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., was a chief sponsor of legislation that would allow co-op use of electric resistance water heaters. (Photo By: Cathy Cash)

“Electric co-ops have a straightforward mission: to provide reliable electric service to their consumer-owners at the lowest cost possible,” Emerson said in a letter to lawmakers. “H.R. 2126 will allow us to continue to use water heaters in money- and energy-saving demand response programs by establishing a new category of efficiency standard for water heaters used in demand response programs.”

The bill, H.R. 2126, offered by Reps. David B. McKinley, R-W.Va., and Peter Welch, D-Vt., cleared the House 375-36 and now heads to the Senate, where it’s expected to be well received. Many provisions of the House bill can be found in legislation reintroduced this year by Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio.

Both bills would allow for the manufacture of grid-enabled electric resistance water heaters above 75 gallons for use in demand-response programs. These provisions would mitigate the federal standards that would essentially end their production beginning in April 2015.

Absent this legislation, the new standard from the Department of Energy would in effect ban electric resistance water heaters of 55 gallons or larger capacity in favor of heat pump technology, leaving co-ops without access to these water heaters that are vital to their successful demand response programs.

Emerson reminded lawmakers that several bills in Congress encourage demand response as an important part of a national energy strategy. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recognized co-ops’ leadership in demand response in a 2012 report.

“We have worked closely with Congressional leaders, DOE, other utilities, energy efficiency and environmental advocacy groups, and water heater manufacturers over the past several years to develop this common-sense approach to help continue the beneficial use of electric resistance water heaters,” said Emerson.

“It is through the use of large capacity electric resistance water heaters that co-ops are able to meet such federal goals.”

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