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Last updated 7:54PM ET
March 3, 2021
Legislative Panel Offers Alabama Energy Policy with Some Tax Credits
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - With gas prices hovering near $3 a gallon and the cost of heating and cooling homes and businesses skyrocketing, the Alabama Legislature began work Wednesday on a package of bills aimed at helping the state conserve energy.

The bills include a measure to provide tax credits for certain projects that use energy saving techniques. Other bills would encourage the state to build or purchase energy efficient buildings, require state agencies to consider energy costs when accepting competitive bids and require agencies to consider fuel economy and other energy factors in buying state vehicles.

The package of 13 bills, many already approved by House and Senate committees Tuesday, were part of the recommendations of the Joint Legislative Committee on Energy Policy, which has been studying the state's energy needs since August. The committee presented its recommendations to the Legislature Wednesday.

"This is the most comprehensive strategy the state has ever had regarding its energy future," said the committee chairman, Sen. Wendell Mitchell, D-Luverne.

Vice chairman Rep. Greg Wren, R-Montgomery, said much of the secret to saving energy comes down to common sense lessons most people learned as a child.

"Just turn the lights off," Wren said. He said it's surprising how many lights are on in state buildings late at night.

"I didn't know so many employees work between 6 p.m. and 5 a.m.," Wren joked.

One committee member, Rep. William Thigpen, D-Fayette, said to him the secret to saving energy comes down to a question his mother asked dozens of times when he was a child, every time someone left a door open "Were you born in a barn?"

Eight of the bills in the energy package were considered Wednesday morning by the House Commerce Committee. The committee approved seven of the eight bills, including the measure that encourages the state to build or purchase energy efficient buildings.

"We're making sure the state will be a leader in conservation efforts," said Rep. Frank McDaniel, D-Albertville, chairman of the Commerce Committee.

Members of the energy committee were asked if the state could afford the energy conservation measures at a time when the economy is slow and lawmakers are facing possible cuts to the education and General Fund budgets.

"My attitude is we can't afford not to do it," Mitchell said.

Wren said the package of bills offered by the committee would in the long run make money for the state by reducing energy costs and attracting new businesses to Alabama.

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