A sweeping energy bill approved by the Senate Thursday night included several provisions aimed at helping small businesses adopt renewable energy sources.

The provisions, introduced by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), require the Small Business Administration to create energy efficiency and telecommuting programs, while offering incentives for partnerships between small businesses and local utility companies.

Other amendments give priority in awarding grants to small firms in the alternative energy market, as well as access to loans for any small business seeking to invest in renewable energy sources.

Kerry said the measures will empower smaller businesses to be "on the front lines fighting global climate change."

The energy bill, which passed by 65-27, creates new automotive efficiency standards, among other initiatives.

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