WASHINGTON – Today Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) praised passage of the bipartisan CLEAN Energy Act (H.R. 6), which included provisions they wrote to help small businesses increase their energy efficiency and hold the Bush Administration accountable for failing to help small businesses reduce their dependency on fossil fuels.

“Rising gas and energy costs are hurting the competitiveness of America’s small businesses. This bill gives them the tools they need to become more energy efficient and reduce their energy bills, too,” said Senator Kerry, Chairman of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “Small businesses account for over half of our fuel consumption. This bill puts small businesses in the driver’s seat in the fight for a cleaner, greener future.”

"I am pleased to have worked closely with Senator Kerry, and House Small Business Committee Chair Velazquez and Ranking Member Chabot, to fashion a bipartisan, bicameral Small Business Title to this Energy Bill," said Senator Snowe. "As the Ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship and as a longstanding steward of the environment, I firmly believe that small businesses have a pivotal role to play in finding a solution to global climate change. These provisions will not only help protect the environment, but will also significantly lower the energy costs for cash-strapped small businesses."

The provisions were modeled after legislation Kerry and Snowe introduced in June (S. 1657) and follow two hearings the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship held earlier this year focusing on what the government can do to help small businesses reduce their energy costs, become more energy efficient, and combat climate change. The provisions in the energy bill will:

  • Require the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement within 90 days an energy efficiency program that was mandated in the 2005 Energy Policy Act;
  • Establish an audit program to increase energy efficiency using Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs);
  • Promote financing agreements between small businesses and utility companies to increase energy efficiency;
  • Create a telecommuting pilot program at the SBA responsible for educational materials and outreach to small businesses on the benefits of telecommuting;
  • Allow small businesses conducting energy efficiency or renewable energy research and development to be given priority consideration in the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs; and
  • Establish loans for small firms to invest in use of renewable sources of energy in their business.