Congressman Andy Levin Submits Testimony to House Small Business Committee on Priorities for MI-09

May 15, 2019
Press Release

Congressman Andy Levin today submitted testimony to House Small Business Committee Chair Nydia Velázquez and Ranking Member Steve Chabot highlighting his priorities for Michigan’s 9th Congressional District as the committee crafts legislation to grow America’s small businesses

Congressman Levin highlighted workforce development, zero-net energy buildings and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure as three synergistic priorities that will accelerate both small business growth and the development of clean energy technology.

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Congressman Andy Levin

Testimony for the Record: Members’ Day Hearing of the House Committee on Small Business

May 15, 2019

Chairwoman Velázquez and Ranking Member Chabot: thank you for the opportunity to provide testimony on behalf of Michigan’s Ninth Congressional District as you craft legislation to strengthen our nation’s small businesses.

I would like to call attention to the critical role small businesses will play in moving our country towards a clean energy future. Specifically, I will highlight three issues where there are natural synergies between the expansion of small businesses and the development of clean energy technologies and environmentally-friendly policies: workforce development, zero-net energy buildings, and electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.

Workforce Development

As the United States creates and uses cleaner forms of energy, we must develop a workforce that can meet new and evolving job demands within the clean energy industry.

In 2018, the energy efficiency sector produced more than 76,000 new jobs—more than any other energy sector.[1] The types of jobs created varied tremendously. For example, almost 21,000 jobs were construction trades, while 35,000 were professional services.[2] Most of this growth has occurred within the small business community: most of the 1.9 million energy efficiency workers in the U.S. work for small businesses with five employees or less, and about 70 percent work for companies with 10 employees or less.[3] 

With this tremendous growth comes the need to develop a skilled workforce that can help small businesses thrive. Employers in the energy efficiency sector have reported difficulty finding qualified workers to fill open positions: in 2015, about three-quarters of employers said hiring was either “very” or “somewhat” difficult.[4] According to employers, these difficulties were primarily due to applicants’ insufficient experience, training, or technical skills.[5]

By investing in workforce development, Congress can help move our country even closer to the clean energy future and ensure that the small businesses that power the clean energy industry have the skilled workforce they need to succeed. These investments would be a win-win for small businesses, the economy, and our environment alike. 

Zero-net energy buildings

In its 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review, the U.S. Department of Energy found that the buildings sector accounts for about 76 percent of electricity use and 40 percent of all U.S. primary energy use and associated greenhouse gas emissions.[6] The report also found that the implementation of the best available energy efficiency technologies in the nation’s current building stock would reduce commercial energy consumption by 46 percent.[7]

Inefficiency in our buildings has key implications for small businesses, which spend an estimated $60 billion per year on energy costs.[8] Energy Star finds that strategic efficiency investments by small businesses can cut utility costs by 10 to 30 percent without sacrificing service or quality.[9] Simply put: more energy-efficient buildings will mean more savings for our nation’s small businesses.

As a former clean energy entrepreneur, I have seen first-hand the potential to address our climate crisis through solutions that produce more efficient commercial buildings while also spurring cost savings and job growth. I believe we must move much faster with respect to the efficiency of both current and new building infrastructure, which is why I support requiring that all new buildings, including small businesses, be zero-net energy—i.e., new buildings should produce as much energy as they consume. To achieve this rapidly, we must increase our investments in grant programs that establish or expand financing for small business energy efficiency projects. Such investments will help us reduce our carbon footprint, create jobs, and yield savings for America’s small businesses.

EV charging infrastructure

Placing more EV charging stations at commercial locations across the United States is not just a smart investment in the health of our environment: it is an investment in small businesses.

As our nation’s transportation sector has become increasingly responsible for overall greenhouse gas emissions, plug-in EVs—which have 54 percent lower lifetime carbon pollution than conventional vehicles—can help us reduce emissions and move us closer to climate sustainability.[10],[11] Demand for EV chargers is only expected to grow in the coming decade: EV charging needs will rise from 6 billion kWh in 2020 to 53 billion kWh in 2030, and the number of chargers needed is estimated to rise from 2 million in 2020 to 13 million in 2030.[12]

I believe we need to lead the world in protecting our environment, and that must include improving EV consumer experiences so that we may end our dependence on conventional vehicles. “Range anxiety,” charge times, and charging costs currently preclude the paradigm shift necessary for a sustainable automotive future. To encourage our country’s needed shift to EVs, I plan to introduce a bill establishing a network of EV charging stations at small businesses and other locations along the National Highway System.

A network of EV chargers like the one I have proposed would be a boon for America’s small businesses. According the EV charging infrastructure company ChargePoint, the installation of EV charging stations increases customer "dwell-time" at businesses significantly.[13] By investing in EV charging infrastructure, we can afford small businesses the competitive edge they need to attract customers. 

As the Committee considers legislation to strengthen our nation’s small businesses, I respectfully request that you bear in mind their critical role in moving our country towards a clean energy future that fosters sustainability for our communities and our environment. By investing in workforce development, energy-efficient buildings, and EV charging infrastructure, we simultaneously invest in the success of our nation’s small businesses. These investments will ensure the small business community has the workforce, resources, and technologies to stay competitive as our country evolves to lead the world in tackling our climate crisis. With the help of small businesses, America can be at the forefront in developing and adapting the technology and infrastructure needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century. 

Again, I thank you for your consideration. I look forward to working with you.

 

[1] National Association of State Energy Officials; Energy Futures Initiative. (2019). The 2019 U.S. Energy & Employment Report. https://www.usenergyjobs.org/2019-report

[2] Ibid.

[3] Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2), E4TheFuture (2016). Energy Efficiency Jobs in America: A Comprehensive Analysis of Energy Efficiency Employment Across All 50 States https://e4thefuture.org/1-9-million-energy-efficiency-jobs-in-u-s/

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] U.S. Department of Energy. (2015). An assessment of energy technologies and research opportunities. Quadrennial Technology Review. https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2017/03/f34/qtr-2015-chapter5.pdf

[7] Ibid.

[8] Energy Star, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Small Businesses: An Overview of Energy Use and Energy Efficiency Opportunities. https://www.energystar.gov/sites/default/files/buildings/tools/SPP%20Sales%20Flyer%20for%20Small%20Business.pdf

[9] Ibid.

[10] U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). (2016). Inventory of US Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinkshttps://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2018-01/documents/2018_complete_report.pdf

[11] NRDC. (2015). Electric Vehicles Can Dramatically Reduce Carbon Pollution from Transportation and Improve Air Quality. https://www.nrdc.org/experts/luke-tonachel/study-electric-vehicles-can-dramatically-reduce-carbon-pollution

[12] Ibid.

[13] ChargePoint. (2015). Leading Retailer Partners with ChargePoint to Attract and Retain Loyal Customers. https://www.chargepoint.com/files/casestudies/cs-retail.pdf