WASHINGTON, D.C. -- David Zepponi, President of the Northwest Food Processors Association, today told the U.S. Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee that Northwest food processors strongly support proposed legislation that would create a revolving loan program to fund increased energy efficiency implementation for U.S. industries.
“Lack of capital and resources are significant barriers to implementation, particularly for small- and medium-sized companies,” Zepponi said. “For these companies, capital is in short supply, especially during this economic downturn. Energy efficiency capital projects must compete with all other business priorities and obligations.”
Zepponi’s testimony was provided before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s hearing on the “Restoring America’s Manufacturing Leadership through the Energy Efficiency Act of 2009” (S.661). This act, designed to strengthen U.S. manufacturing through improved energy efficiency, would provide financing mechanisms to help American companies retool and invest in energy efficiency measures, encourage public-private partnerships to develop and deploy new technologies and processes, and create industry-specific technology roadmaps to achieve energy use and emissions reductions while enhancing competitiveness.
In his testimony, Zepponi described some of NWFPA’s forward-thinking energy efficiency initiatives, including NWFPA’s recently-signed Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Department of Energy under which the NWFPA membership committed to voluntarily reduce their energy intensity by 25 percent over the next 10 years. The MOU made Northwest food processors the first major industrial segment in the U.S. to commit to such a sweeping energy efficiency goal.
Food processing is a $20 billion-dollar-per-year industry in the Northwest, the third-largest manufacturing employer in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, and the region’s second-largest industrial consumer of electricity, trailing only the pulp and paper industry.
In his testimony, Zepponi noted that lack of up-front funding was the main reason up to 70 percent of energy efficiency opportunities identified by Northwest food processors have not been implemented, and strongly endorsed the Act’s proposal to create a revolving loan program to fund such improvements. He noted that the “Energy Roadmap” approach developed in partnership between NWFPA, the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance and other cluster partners has essentially been included as Section 5 of the proposed bill. Zepponi also called for industry input into the university-based Centers of Excellence that will provide key industrial research and assessment services under the Act, to ensure that this research produces value to industrial users. Zepponi said NWFPA supports industry-USDOE national laboratory partnerships to encourage the development of new and innovative energy efficiency applications with a broad range of industrial uses.
“NWFPA is very supportive of S. 661 because our experience indicates that the programs and resources provided by this legislation will promote significant implementation of energy efficiency by industry, will assure that industry and its partners have the resources to achieve these ends, and will assure that U.S. industries remain competitive in the global marketplace,” Zepponi testified.