U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz, the Democrat from Hawaii, and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), and Chris Coons (D-Del.) on Thursday introduced legislation they say would give federal agencies “greater ability to reduce energy use and save taxpayer dollars.”

The Utility Energy Service Contracts Improvement Act of 2015 would allow federal agencies to enter into long-term contracts with utilities for energy-saving services, according to a press release from Schatz’s office, “giving agencies more options to conserve energy and reduce costs.”

Hawaiian Electric located along Ala Moana Boulevard/Downtown. 15 jan 2015. photograph Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Hawaiian Electric offices in Honolulu.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

“As the largest consumer of energy in the country, the federal government needs to do everything it can to save energy and taxpayer dollars,” said Schatz. “Our bipartisan legislation would expand opportunities to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy projects while saving money.”

The proposed act “clarifies an existing law that allows federal agencies to enter into utility energy service contracts (UESCs) of up to 25 years, provided certain conditions are met,” says the release. “Renewable energy projects, long-term energy security projects, and large scale energy conservation measures often are simply not cost-effective with a 10-year contract period.”

“This legislation lets the federal government negotiate longer-term contracts with utilities, just as businesses would, to provide more certainty and reduce taxpayers’ energy costs,” said Alexander. “That’s a welcome change from the usual Washington obsessions with burdensome mandates and wasteful taxpayer subsidies that instead increase the cost of energy.”

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