Posts Tagged ‘energy bill’

As a country, we have the technology to make our homes more energy efficient. What we lack is the will to do it.

August 3, 2010

I think Harold Orr, a pioneer in practical deep energy-efficiency in homes from Saskatchewan, summed it up very nicely three years ago at the ACI Deep Energy Retrofit Summit, when he said that with respect to serious energy-efficiency savings in homes, we don’t lack the technology, we lack the will.

Harold was right then.  And the same holds true today.  We do have the technology.  We routinely save 20-30% in homes.  We often save more than 50%.  And even without getting into renewable energy like PV or wind, we could in many cases chop 80% of the energy a home uses.    The technology exists today.  Most of the technology has existed for decades.  We have the skills.

But as a country we lack the will.  The political will.  We find it easier to ignore the problem.   We strip our mountains for coal and fill in the streams with dirt.  We damage our oceans.  We use our farmland—the land we don’t allow to erode into the sea—increasing to grow fuel, not food.  And we argue about global warming. 

And we don’t do anything to address our energy security, our economic vitality, protect the environment.  As a country, we don’t seem able to institute a sound energy policy.

This is epitomized by the energy bills (or “oil spill bill” if you prefer), Democratic and Republican alike, stalled in the Senate right now.  “Energy” policy—or lack thereof—today seems to have more to do with making the “other side” look bad than with helping the whole country.  Home Star, a bill that would create jobs across the country, help make millions of homes more energy efficient thereby saving homeowners money, and protect the environment, is stalled along with everything else.  It would be downright silly that this isn’t moving forward immediately…if it weren’t such a shame.

We can make homes much more energy efficient—and more comfortable, with better indoor air quality, and a safer environment!—today.   But to do this at scale and in a way that makes sense for the country, in a way that makes broad economic sense for the country, we need a coherent energy policy.

While partisan bickering keeps the country from moving forward, we the people are going to have to lead on this one.  We do have the technology.  We’d better find the collective will.  And soon.


Congressman Peter Welch on Energy Bill

July 3, 2009

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch held a press conference earlier this week.   Congressman Welch did a great job explaining the positive impact of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454) that passed the House on June 26.  He touched on the provisions of the bill and how it considered and minimzed the impacts on a variety of industries, from agriculate, to steel, to mining.  Check out an excerpt as reported by Vermont Public Radio.  (And listen closely for a brief snippet of me speaking.)

[2010 Update:  Peter Welch on the Home Star bill that he sponsored and that passed the House in May.]


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

March 18, 2009


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]


%d bloggers like this: