President Bush has today signed into law an energy bill on 19 December that gives a strong boost to energy efficiency, including combined heat and power.

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (H.R. 6) contains ‘important new provisions’ to promote CHP, recycled energy and district energy systems, according to analysis by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Among other things, the bill creates grants to fund a new generation of energy efficiency programmes for public buildings. CHP, recycled energy and district energy systems can qualify for the grants. The bill also calls for quantifying the potential for recycled energy, encouraging the rationalization of utility grid access for CHP and recycled energy, and expanding Regional CHP Assistance Centers.

On a broader scale, the bill is expected to create $400 billion in energy savings for consumers and business by 2030, said the ACEEE. It does this through several measures, including corporate average fuel economy standards (CAFÉ) of 35 miles per gallon for cars and light trucks by 2020 and new minimum efficiency standards for appliances and lights. The bill also creates a new government/industry initiative to make all new commercial buildings zero net energy structures (they produce as much energy as they use) by 2030, and achieve the same goal for existing buildings by 2050.

While ACEEE hailed the efficiency measure in the bill, it promised to continue to fight in future legislation for two important clean energy measures stripped from the bill in the US Senate: a renewable portfolio standard and tax incentives for renewables and efficiency.