A national energy efficiency program — at last, legislation is pending!

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Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Mike Rogers unveil REEP program

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Mike Rogers unveil REEP program

On Monday I had the privilege of joining Vermont’s only Congressman, Peter Welch, in unveiling his proposal of a National Energy Efficiency Program that will retrofit millions of American homes and buildings. The goal of the legislation is to deliver a 20% increase in energy efficiency, and he plans to introduce the bill later this week.

Obviously I’m a huge fan of this legislation, more on that in a bit, but here’s how Rep. Welch’s press release describes the bill:

 “The Retrofit for Energy and Environmental Performance (REEP) 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. Welch’s bill would direct 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 efficiency they achieve.

Funding of the program would go to the states through the existing State Energy Program formula.”

 This would bring the rest of the company up to the type of programs that already exist—and that we already work in—in New York and New Jersey.

It’s high time for this legislation and I thank Congressman Welch for what he’s doing—I believe this is one of the most important issues we face.  Now you’ve heard this referred to as a climate change bill.  And it is.  With the news out of Copenhagen this week, that climate change is real, it’s worse than we thought, and it’s happening faster than we thought, this is important. 

 But Congressman Welch is doing is much more than that.  Forget about climate change for a moment. What Rep. Welch is doing with this bill is actually going to be an enormous boost for the U.S. economy.  It’s going to increase our energy security and make us less dependent on foreign oil.  It’s going to help keep our money at home, in our local communities.  Homeowners can save real money by reducing their utility costs.  This bill will help homeowners insulate themselves against price increases and volatility in the energy markets, and keep more of their monthly income for things putting like food on the table and saving for college rather that burning money and sending it out the chimney.

 And, this bill will create jobs in local communities.  For example, at GreenHomes, we know that for every dozen homes we improve, we create a job at our company.  The bill that Congressman Welch is introducing can help us, and companies like us, fix thousands of homes a year in even a small state like Vermont.  In larger states, the job creation effect is a magnitude of order larger.

 It’s also important to note that these are high-quality jobs that can’t be outsourced overseas. Unlike many contracting industry jobs, these are year-round positions.  At GreenHomes, we offer comprehensive benefits, including medical, dental, 401K, generous paid holidays and vacation.

 Lastly, there’s the multiplier effect.  As these companies invest and grow, we’ll see double the number of jobs rippling through our communities as they generate commerce with local: 

  • Vehicles dealers
  • Auto mechanics
  • Material manufacturers and suppliers
  • Marketing and advertising – newspaper, cable, network, radio, etc.
  • Uniform suppliers
  • Restaurants
  • Convenience stores – as their people grab their coffee and snacks in the morning
  • Office material stores (e.g., Staples and smaller businesses.)
  • And on and on and on.

I’m excited about this bill, and I’ll close with the most direct evidence I have of what it can mean for everyday homeowners: I live in a 90-year old house in Vermont that costs us less than $400 a year to heat—that’s $400 a year—less than some people paid last month.

[see update, House Passes Historic Climate and Energy Bill, June 26, 2009]

-Mike

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