POWER Act aims to spur industrial conversion of ‘waste heat’ into power

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY) introduced the POWER Act on Monday, a bipartisan bill that aims to encourage businesses to utilize new energy technologies to convert their “waste heat” into usable electricity.

“(HR 2657) is a great piece of legislation that really gives our manufacturers a competitive edge around the world,” Reed said. “Time and time again, I’ve heard that energy consumption is the largest cost driver for manufacturers across the Southern Tier. This is a very simple way to help them keep those costs in check.”

The term “waste heat” refers to heat produced as a byproduct during various manufacturing processes. Technology currently exists, called Waste Heat to Power (WHP), which harnesses this heat and converts it into functional electricity. Prior to this technology, waste heat would spill into the atmosphere as pollution. Now, this power can be used at a manufacturing facility to lower electricity costs, or in some cases sold back to the main electrical grid for credit.

“It’s new technologies, like waste heat to power, which are absolutely vital to America’s quest for energy independence,” Reed said. “It’s good for our national security because it reduces our dependence on Middle Eastern crude oil.”

The POWER Act legislation makes it easier for companies to access this technology, offering a new tax credit as an offset for absorbing the upfront cost of the necessary equipment. The main objective of the bill is to spur long-term investment in WHP technology. Many manufacturers have shied away from installing the systems, reluctant to take on the initial expense. The ultimate goal would be to entice the country’s largest energy users and power generators to become more efficient and productive, which would, in turn, make electricity costs more affordable and make the companies more globally competitive.

Currently, there are about 3,600 facilities across the United States utilizing the WHP systems. With higher saturation, it is estimated that using waste heat for electrical generation could reduce operating costs for the manufacturing industry in the United States by over $3 billion, enough to create 160,000 high-paying jobs.
“It’s good for our environment because it creates electricity from pollution. It’s good for our workers because it makes the cost of doing business cheaper in the United States, which means more jobs here at home, without cuts to wages,” Reed said.

Co-sponsors of the bill include Chris Collins (R-NY), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Joe Heck (R-NV), Peter Welch (D-VT), Ron Kind (D-WI), Tim Ryan (D-OH), Dina Titus (D-NV), and Chris Gibson (R-NY). Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have introduced a companion bill in the Senate.