Front Porch Blog

Southern Congressmen Introduce Rural Energy Savings Program Act

Bipartisan support is growing around legislation that would conserve energy, save Americans money on their power bills, and create tens of thousands of domestic jobs.

The Rural Energy Savings Program Act (H.R. 4785) would provide electric cooperatives with $4.9 billion in loan authority through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service. Electric cooperatives would offer this money as low-interest micro-loans to residential and small business customers who undertake energy-saving retrofit and structural improvements. Examples of energy-saving improvements include sealing, heating, insulation, heat pump, HVAC system, boiler, and roof improvements. A typical loan would be in the range of $1,500 to $7,000.

The act was introduced by southern state Congressmen James Clyburn (D-SC), Ed Whitfield (R-KY), Tom Perriello (D-VA), and John Spratt (D-SC). It’s currently sitting in the House Committee on Agriculture and has gained the support of 42 cosponsors (as of May 12).

Because efficiency products are primarily manufactured in the United States, and installation work requires local labor, the bill is expected to significantly bolster American manufacturing and construction industries.

Loans will be payed back within a 10 year period as customers pay an extra charge on their utility bills. Most, if not all, of this charge will be made up in the savings a customer receives from having made energy-saving improvements. Once the loan is repaid, customers will continue to enjoy savings on their energy bills.

Representative Tom Perriello, a co-sponsor of RESPA, notes an additional benefit:

Co-op service areas are typically among the most coal dependent in the country, and as a result energy savings in co-op areas will have a disproportionately significant reduction in carbon pollution while saving money and creating jobs.

The Congressman adds:

It’s great to see that the parties can come together on something that isn’t really bi-partisan as much as it’s post partisan. It just makes sense and it’s the right thing to do and I’m proud to be a part of it.

We’re proud of you too, Mr. Perriello, along with each of the other Congressmen who took part in introducing this important legislation. : )




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