U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.) have introduced legislation to strengthen and reauthorize the heart of the federal government's energy efficiency strategy -- the Weatherization Assistance Program -- and to reauthorize the vital work of the State Energy Program. The Weatherization Enhancement, and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act would extend both programs for five more years. The bill will be among those examined at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy hearing on Tuesday.
"Saving energy is the first step to reducing our energy costs and increasing our nation's energy security," Senator Coons said. "The Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program have made it possible for millions of Americans to reap the benefits of a wide range of energy-efficient technologies and practices. Our bill will not only ensure that both landmark programs can continue to help make American homes safer, healthier, and more energy efficient, it also further enhances the Weatherization Assistance Program with a complementary, competitive grant program, and requires that the DOE establish strong, achievable standards for qualifying entities. This will ensure that even more families can benefit. This is common-sense, bipartisan legislation that I hope will once again earn strong support in the Senate."
"I am pleased to support this bipartisan bill to reauthorize and enhance two successful and long-standing federal energy programs," Senator Collins said. "Weatherization provides grants to permanently lower home energy costs for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities, as well as create jobs, and the State Energy Program is supporting key state energy efficiency and renewable energy projects." Senator Collins said. "Programs such as these have a significant return on investment and help meet our national goals of saving energy, lowering costs, and energy independence."
"Energy efficiency is critical to our efforts to lower energy costs, reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, and strengthen our economy," Senator Reed said. "This bipartisan legislation to reauthorize the Weatherization Assistance Program and State Energy Program will help more families and businesses save on their energy bills and put more people to work making energy efficient improvements."
For 36 years, the Weatherization Assistance Program has assisted low-income families that lack the resources to make their homes more energy efficient. It is responsible for energy efficiency upgrades -- including the installation of attic insulation and dense pack sidewall insulation, as well as air sealing, heating system repairs and, when necessary, replacements, duct sealing and insulation, and base load measures -- in more than 7.4 million homes across the country, including more than 1 million homes in just the last four years. For every dollar invested by the Weatherization Assistance Program, participating American homeowners have saved more than $2.50 on their energy costs.
The 38-year-old State Energy Program leverages federal investment with state and local funds to encourage strategic and programmatic energy-related activities to increase energy efficiency, develop alternative energy sources, promote energy development, and reduce energy dependency. For every dollar invested by the State Energy Program, more than $7 in energy-cost savings have been realized.
The Congressional authorization for both programs expired in September 2012.
The Weatherization Enhancement, and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act would:
Reauthorize and extend the WAP and SEP through 2018;
Develop a competitive, leveraged grant program for non-profits that have a track record of success to access the WAP; and
Require minimum professional standards for WAP contractors and workers, and require an independent quality assurance program.
The legislation has been endorsed by more than 20 organizations, including the National Association of State Energy Officials, Habitat for Humanity International, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alliance to Save Energy, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, Energy Future Coalition, National Association for State Community Services Programs, and Rebuilding Together. A complete list is available at http://coons.senate.gov/weatherization.
"For nearly 40 years, the structure of the Weatherization Assistance Program has remained stagnant, despite significant advances in the energy efficiency technology and the construction industry," Delaware Secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Collin O'Mara said. "In the past few years, Delaware has built a national model program operating under the old archaic rules, but the State could more effectively help low-income families, if given the flexibility to innovative and work with strategic partners. Senator Coons knows that innovation and new partnerships are critical to scaling up residential efficiency investments that produce real savings and create jobs, and we applaud his leadership for advancing legislation that will bring this important and well-intentioned program into the 21st century."
"NASEO strongly supports the bipartisan Coons-Collins SEP and WAP reauthorization bill," David Terry, Executive Director, of the National Association of State Energy Officials said. "The states' implementation of SEP has a history of continuous innovation that leverages private sector investments to tap indigenous energy resources and technological advances unique to each state. In addition, we support the proposed, new innovative element of WAP, as well as the base Weatherization program with new quality standards. We look forward to working with Congress to pass this important bipartisan legislation as rapidly as possible."
"Habitat for Humanity International is pleased to offer its enthusiastic endorsement of the Weatherization Enhancement and Local Energy Efficiency Investment and Accountability Act, developed by Senators Coons, Collins and Reed," said Jonathan T.M. Reckford, CEO, Habitat for Humanity International. "Habitat is fully committed to improving residential energy efficiency through technologically advanced new construction, home rehabilitation and retrofitting, and owner-occupied weatherization projects. Developing energy efficient homes contributes to the long-term affordability of Habitat homes and helps keep in check the energy and environmental demands made by growing communities. Habitat congratulates Senators Coons, Collins, and Reed on their extraordinary work on this bill and looks forward to supporting its adoption and implementation."
A PDF summary of the legislation can be downloaded here:
A PDF section-by-section breakdown of the legislation can be downloaded here:
A PDF of the legislation can be downloaded here: