With debate under way on an energy efficiency bill in the House Energy and Commerce Committee Wednesday, a national energy conservation organization called for stricter standards to be included in the legislation.

“Unless enhanced significantly during the legislative process, this bill will do little to help the US improve its energy efficiency,” said David Nemtzow, president of the Alliance to Save Energy. A number of the measures favored by the organization were proposed as amendments by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and defeated in subcommittee.

Nemtzow said the bill sponsored by subcommittee chairman Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) “fails to provide meaningful action to promote energy efficiency.”

Committee Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) reiterated his position “that we cannot conserve our way out of the energy problems facing the country. But we can and should do more than we are right now. The bill’s provisions will save energy for the long term, without creating onerous burdens on manufacturers and other energy interests.”

The Alliance called on the committee to reverse the Bush administration’s rollback of air conditioning efficiency standards, helping ensure summer electricity reliability. Energy standards for a variety of new products, including torchiere lamps and exit signs, and stand-by power required for appliances are needed, Nemtzow said.

He said this would be an “enormous” step to eliminate wasteful consumption. The Alliance said a fund needs to be created that would encourage utilities to invest in energy efficiency, low-income programs, renewable energy, and research and development. It projected potential savings of such a program would be equivalent to the electricity produced by 300 power plants.

The group also called on the committee to incorporate a provision creating a Federal Energy Bank for energy efficient projects, requiring the purchase of Energy Star labeled (symbol for energy efficiency) products, and revising agency energy reduction goals, reducing the federal government’s $8 billion annual energy bill.

The Alliance said energy efficiency incentives could help extend the nation’s oil, gas, and electric energy supply.