Posts Tagged ‘Peter Welch’

Peter Welch on Home Star

June 21, 2010

Congressman Peter Welch and Mike Rogers, SVP of GreenHomes America and Chair of Efficiency First address members of Efficiency First in Washington, DC. May 20, 2010.

Speaking of good energy policy, I recently visited Washington, DC with more than 100 contractors from around the country to help educate Congress about the potential for Home Star.  As part of that, I had the pleasure of introducing Congressman Peter Welch of Vermont who said a few words about Home Star.  Home Star is good energy policy, that creates local jobs, and helps home owners fight rising energy costs.

Michael Tanesky caught some of the remarks in this video clip.


Bipartisanship in DC? Can energy-efficiency bring us together?

May 5, 2010

Spence Abraham, the former Secretary of Energy under Bush 2 and a former Senator from Michigan, and John Engler, the former (R) governor of Michigan and current President of the National Association of Manufacturers, penned an op-ed in The Hill today endorsing Home Star, the energy-efficiency home retrofit bill.  And they summed up the merits by quoting the President.

“This is not a Democratic idea or a Republican idea; this is a common-sense approach that will help jumpstart job creation while making our economy stronger.”

And “common sense” is a phrase often used by Peter Welch (D-VT), who is the lead sponsor of the bill in the House, a bill that made it out of committee with bipartisan support.

Here’s hoping that common sense and bipartisanship can prevail for the good of the country.   It should.  Quoting Messrs. Abraham and Engler, “Support for jobs, homes and energy efficiency naturally crosses party lines.”

Reason to be hopeful.


Senator Sanders and Assistant Secrectary Zoi lead geothermal discussion

April 17, 2010

Asst. Secretary Cathy Zoi joins U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders and Congressman Peter Welch at a forum to discuss geothermal technology.

I just got back from a discussion this afternoon hosted by Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and featuring Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi from the Department of Energy on the topic of geothermal.  Congressman Peter Welch also had the chance to speak of the bipartisan Home Star legislation that he introduced this week to help create jobs and make homes more energy-efficient. 

I’m a fan of geothermal, where it makes sense.  I was heartened though, to see many of the discussants talk about the importance of energy efficiency first.  Geothermal often makes the most sense when we’ve maximized energy-efficiency.  As a couple of the speakers mentioned–and as readers of this blog often hear–a critical first step is improving the envelope of the home.  That is, making sure the home is well-sealed, well insulated, with good ducts were applicable, and extending even to efficient windows and doors.  Geothermal–along other heat pump technology–is going to be a solid part of a smart energy future.  And it will best deliver on its promise after we’ve made our homes and commerical buildings more comfortable and energy-efficient.

I captured Cathy Zoi’s opening remarks on a bit of shaky video.


Congressman Welch Leads Home Star Job Creation Initiative

March 15, 2010

Congressman Peter Welch hosted an event today in Williston, VT at the home of some Vermonters investing in energy-efficiency in their own home–and expecting to save 30% doing so.  The Congressman spoke about the pending Home Star legislation, and local contactors, builders, retailers, energy experts, and home owners joined in supporting the proposal.

Remarks by Mike Rogers, Senior Vice President, GreenHomes America

Williston, VT — March 15, 2009 — My name is Mike Rogers. I’m the Senior Vice President at GreenHomes America.  And today we’re here to talk about jobs.

First, let me say what a privilege it is to be here with Congressman Welch.  I’m thoroughly impressed with the Congressman’s work on this issue.  He has shown time and time again the ability to reach out across the aisle and across different segments of his own party to hammer out good, common sense solutions.  I’ve had the opportunity over the last few months to work with a broad group representing contractors, manufacturers, labor, environmentalists, and energy experts from across the political spectrum to provide real-world input into the Home Star concept.  And I’m here to tell you that because of the way Peter focuses on the common sense and practical approach, Home Star has good bi-partisan support.  We in Vermont are lucky to have such leadership.

But let’s get back to jobs, jobs, jobs, because that’s what Home Star is about.

Home Star would help create jobs in the construction industry, perhaps the hardest hit sector of our economy, and a sector in which recovery is lagging even as we show signs of emerging from the recession.  Nationally, more than 25%, that’s 1 in 4, construction jobs have been lost over the past couple of years.  In Vermont, that’s almost 6,000 jobs.  6,000 people out of work.  Home Star would help turn that around.

Home Star means jobs for contractors, the insulators, window installers, heating guys and plumbers.  People in our own communities that we can get back to work, in jobs that can never be exported.

Home Star also means jobs at our local lumber yards and supply houses where we get the materials to make homes more energy-efficient.

Home Star means manufacturing jobs.  And well over 90% of the products and materials used in these home improvement projects are made right here in the U.S.

I can’t speak for the industry, but at my company, these are good paying, year-round jobs, with full benefits, vacation and holiday pay, health insurance, 401(k)s, and more.

The jobs created get people back to work, off unemployment, and get money flowing through our communities.

Home Star does this not by providing a hand-out, but by encouraging private sector investment.  That’s homeowners investing in their own homes.  And private sector businesses investing in their own companies to stand up an industry that will thrive for decades to come. 

That is good economics.  Good home economics.  Good Vermont economics.  And good economic policy for our country.  As Peter would say, it’s good common sense.

Home Star is the right policy for right now.  It’s a bipartisan policy.  I’d like to thank Congressman Welch for his leadership and his willingness to look at this not from a Democrat or Republican perspective, but from the perspective of what’s best for our state and our country.

ACI & the Home Energy Retrofit Summit

March 7, 2010

Coming up April 19-23 in Austin, TX is the annual ACI Conference, the best gathering of minds focused on energy-efficiency in existing homes.  The core confernce is a treasure trove of technical and best-practice information for business, utility program design, research and results in home energy retrofits.

This year, as a special high level event for policy makers, financial institutions, state and utility program managers, and entrepreneurs is the first annual Home Energy Retrofit Summit.  The Summit features a great line-up of topics and speakers, including Congressman Peter Welch, DOE Assistant Secretary Cathy Zoi, and GreenHomes’ own president, Brett Knox.  This is a must attend event for those on the leading edge in home energy efficiency.  See you there!


Home Star, Cash for Caulkers, Home Performance with Energy Star–Call it what you will. The time to act is now.

January 7, 2010

In December, at an event in a Virginia Home Depot, President Obama declared that “Insulation is Sexy.”

This was a follow-up to his earlier announcement of a Home Star or “Cash for Caulkers” initiative.  (“Cash for Caulkers” may be a cute name riffing off of “Cash for Clunkers”, but Home Star is much more than caulk or caulkers and the CfC moniker is a bit misleading.)

Congress has taken up the idea and is exploring how to put meat on the bones.  And rightly so.  As the Boston Globe points out, this should be an immediate priority when Congress returns to session in a couple of weeks.  It’s the right way to get the 17 percent of construction workers who are unemployed back on the payroll improving homes while also increasing our nation’s energy security and reducing our dependence on foreign oil.  While GreenHomes continues to be busier than ever, that simply isn’t the case for most of the residential contracting and construction industry.  Fortunately, Congress may have a good start on this in the form the REEP legislation introduced by Congressman Peter Welch earlier in 2009, elements of which were incorporated in both House and Senate energy and climate bills that seem to have stalled out. 

It’s time to move forward with REEP under the Home Star banner and get construction workers, manufacturing workers making insulation, furnaces, windows, water heaters, and all the supporting industries back on the job full time.

The HOME STAR Program

As just mentioned, HOME STAR is intended to create jobs in existing industries using incentives for homeowners to retrofit homes to improve energy efficiency and lower energy use.  The program will move quickly with a minimum of red tape and also act as a bridge to long term market development of existing industries and jobs.   

 HOME STAR provides two pathways to incentives and savings.

 A SILVER STAR prescriptive path, what I call the a la carte approach, rewards the purchase and proper installation of specific energy saving equipment (like furnaces and water heaters), high performance major appliances (like refrigerators and washing machines), and very importantly, changes to a buildings envelope (like insulation and duct sealing).   Incentives may range as high as $4,000.  SILVER STAR provides a near term incentive that is simple to administer and easily introduced into the existing marketplace.

A GOLD STAR performance path offers an incentive to households that choose to conduct a comprehensive energy audit and then implement a variety of energy saving measures that together result in a total reduction in home energy use (and energy bills) of 20% or more.   This lines up very well with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program already on the ground in many states and localities and in development in many more (and I think taking advantage of ENERGY STAR makes a lot of sense here).  The incentive is designed to provide greater rewards the deeper the energy savings—up to as much as $12,000 for projects that save more than 50% of a home’s energy use. The performance path represents the future of home efficiency:  state‐of‐the‐art building science is used to deliver verifiable energy savings, generating confidence among homeowners and investors.  GreenHomes is doing this today, but most of the market is lagging.

Both paths are subject to quality assurance to guarantee that jobs are done right and that advertised energy savings are realized, and to protect against waste, fraud and abuse. This system uses industry performance standards, such as those of the Building Performance Institute and includes a provision that a portion of all jobs are inspected by credentialed professionals, and offers an additional incentive to contractors that invest in a trained and certified workforce.

HOME STAR would breathe life into a still struggling economy and create hundreds of thousands of new jobs by skilled and trained home efficiency technicians and factory workers here in the U.S.   We have great examples of how this both creates jobs and provides enormous benefits to consumers.  The time to act is now.


Obama: “Insulation is sexy”

December 15, 2009

In an event at a Northern Virginia Home Depot today, the President talked about energy efficiency in homes.  “Insulation is sexy stuff” said Obama.  “Here’s what’s sexy about it: saving money.”  And it creates jobs we need to rebuild not just our homes but also our economy.

Big kudos to Congressman Peter Welch who earlier this year introduced legislation that closely parallels exactly what the President was discussing.

President Obama speaks on weatherizing homes and creating jobs.


Efficiency First–A Vermont View

October 11, 2009

There was an interesting piece in today’s Burlington Free Press about the value of energy-efficiency and the good economics of starting with efficiency rather than with renewables.  This is the same mantra we’ve been repeating at GreenHomes, the conclusion reached in this year’s McKinsey Group report, and that a group of contractors and other members of Efficiency First was repeating to House and Senate members last week in Washington, DC.  [While you’re hitting the Free Press, check out a Q&A with Bill McKibben.]

Quoting the article:

Here are three options to substantially reduce heating cost and energy use, assuming current fuel prices:

 • Solar electric panel at a total cost of $185,000 with a homeowner cost of $74,000 and a taxpayer cost of $111,000. This amounts to $2,700 in savings a year.

• Geothermal heat pump at a total cost of $80,000 with a homeowner cost of $56,000 and a taxpayer cost of $24,000. This amounts to $1,670 in savings a year.

• 80 percent reduction in energy use through efficiency at a total cost of $55,000 with homeowner cost of $53,000 with taxpayer cost of $2,000. This amounts to $2,200 in savings a year.

Hmmm…that third option sounds better for the homeowner, the taxpayer, and the utility.
And speaking of Vermont, Vermont Congressman Peter Welch spoke to that above-mentioned group of contractors Wednesday night at Union Station in DC.  Congressman Welch has taken a strong leadership position on energy policy.   He was quoted from earlier remarks several times through the week.  “We should have the policy of efficiency first.”  Yes we should!


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.]


U.S. House passes historic climate and energy bill

June 27, 2009

Thursday evening the House pass a bill to address climate change and energy use, a big part of Obama’s agenda.  Of course, Obama can’t sign these provisions into law unless a similar bill passes the Senate.  An energy bill has solid support there, but many expect the climate portion to present a bigger challenge.

My favorite part of the bill is the energy-efficiency direction introduced by Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont which would help bring Home Performance with ENERGY STAR to more states around the country so homeowners can experience the results seen by participants in New York and New Jersey, for example.

See more in articles in the NY Times or the Washington Post.

[See update, Peter Welch’s remarks on the energy bill.]


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