Welch announces energy efficiency program to retrofit millions of homes and buildings
Program seeks 20 percent increase in efficiency - creating jobs, saving homeowners and businesses money, and combating climate change
Rep. Peter Welch introduced an energy efficiency bill Thursday designed to retrofit millions of homes and commercial buildings and increase efficiency by 20 percent or more nationally.
Welch outlined the bill at a Capitol Hill press conference Thursday with many of the bill's 30 cosponsors and representatives from national efficiency, contracting and environmental groups.
The Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) program would provide financial incentives to homeowners and businesses to reduce their energy use and save them money. The program would fund state and municipal investments of up to half the cost of retrofitting the nation's existing homes and buildings, which account for 10 percent of global carbon emissions. REEP would create tens of thousands of middle class jobs and provide a significant boost to the economy.
"Investing in energy efficiency is a practical, commonsense strategy to create jobs, save on energy costs and do our part to fight climate change," said Welch, a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. "Increasing energy efficiency by 20 percent is not only entirely within our power, but it makes perfect sense during tough economic times. It's high time we bring this successful Vermont model to the national stage."
Welch's bill directs the Department of Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency to develop guidelines and manage financing for the national energy efficiency program. Homeowners and businesses could qualify for direct cash incentives, interest rate subsidies and credit support based on the percentage increase in energy efficiency they achieve:
- Homeowners could qualify for $1,000-$3,000 in financial incentives for achieving a 10-20 percent increase in efficiency, with another $150 for every additional percentage point of energy savings achieved
- Businesses could qualify for $0.15 per square foot for the first 20 to 30 percent increase in efficiency with an increasing incentive of up to $2.50 per square foot for energy reductions over 50 percent
- Incentives for both homes and commercial buildings would be capped at 50 percent of the cost of the retrofit
Funding for the program would go to the states through the existing State Energy Program formula, which has a built-in small state minimum, and provides additional financial incentives to states with high-performing programs.
"If there's one thing in the climate change debate we can agree on it's the need to improve efficiency," Welch said.
The bill's 30 original cosponsors include: Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Bruce Braley, Lois Capps, Russ Carnahan, André Carson, Donna Christensen, Steve Cohen, Joe Courtney, Elijah Cummings, Kathy Dahlkemper, William Delahunt, Keith Ellison, Martin Heinrich, Jim Himes, Maurice Hinchey, Mike Honda, Jay Inslee, Steve Israel, Carolyn C. Kilpatrick, Jim Langevin, Carolyn B. Maloney, Eric Massa, George Miller, Patrick J. Murphy, Frank Pallone, Ed Perlmutter, Carol Shea-Porter, Harry Teague, Paul Tonko, and Chris Van Hollen.
Welch was also joined at the event by Jim Presswood of the Natural Resources Defense Council, Steve Nadel of the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Emily Wadhams of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Michelle Moore from US Green Buildings Council, and representatives from Efficiency First.
"The cheapest and easiest way to reduce energy use and global warming pollution is by making our homes and buildings more efficient," Presswood said. "By improving our nation's efficiency, we can reduce our dependence on dirty fuels, save people money on their energy bills, and create local jobs from Vermont to California. Congressman Welch has quickly become a leader in Washington on combating global warming, and this bill affirms his dedication to tackling this challenge."