Sen. Dick Lugar (R-IN) today unveiled a proposed amendment to the farm bill that would help rural Hoosier families, farms, and small businesses save money by saving energy.
"Saving money goes hand in hand with economic growth in Indiana's rural communities," Lugar said. "I am proud of the work being pioneered by Indiana's electric co-ops to enable Hoosiers to cut their energy bills. Our legislation would enable them to do even more."
Lugar's "Rural Energy Savings Program" amendment, co-sponsored by Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), was supported in a letter yesterday by statewide rural electric cooperatives in Indiana, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and several states represented by the Northeast Association.
The Lugar amendment would strengthen work between USDA's Rural Utilities Service and non-profit rural electric cooperatives to allow on-bill financing for cost-effective energy efficiency upgrades. Customers benefit from lower utility bills and repay their loans on their regular electric bills.
The amendment is based on S. 2216, the Rural Energy Savings Program Act (RESPA), which Lugar offered with Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). That legislation also was endorsed by the Indiana Statewide Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, which stated: "RESPA will create jobs and lower energy bills for Hoosier families, farms, and small businesses by promoting energy-saving home renovations in rural communities. The program will assist rural co-op utilities in offering low-interest loans to their member-consumers, allowing families to repay the loan through savings on their monthly energy bill."
Lugar also has included RESPA in his REFRESH Act Farm Bill, which would achieve budget savings of $40 billion and in his Practical Energy Plan, which would save Americans $33 billion annually through energy savings.